Friday, July 12, 2024

My name is Marc McGovern, and I’m running for reelection to Cambridge City Council because – despite the craziness that surrounds politics these days – I still believe in the government’s ability to make tangible differences in people’s lives. Even with all the prosperity and opportunity here in Cambridge, far too many of our residents are struggling to meet their basic needs. Far too many young families are being priced out, and the days of graduating from college and being able to lay down roots are virtually gone. I believe we must do something about that.

The expansion of affordable housing in Cambridge is one of the most contentious issues facing the city today, and our upcoming election has significant implications for how it will be handled in the years to come. Everyone running for council says affordable housing is important. But we disagree on how – and how quickly – we want to meet the needs of our community. There are thousands of people who live or work in Cambridge – folks who teach our kids, work in our restaurants, collect our trash – on the affordable housing waiting list. That’s a crisis, and I believe we must deal boldly with that crisis.

I recognize that Affordable Housing Overlay zoning, including the most recently passed amendments, is controversial, but I believe these policies give us an important tool to address this complex issue. The amendments won’t solve our housing crisis overnight, but they won’t turn Cambridge into Manhattan, either. What they will do is provide our affordable-housing partners with more opportunities and flexibility to produce more 100 percent affordable homes for people, and that’s a good thing. There are places where four-, five- and six-story buildings are appropriate, but there are places where taller buildings are appropriate too, and we need to take advantage of those opportunities; after all, we won’t house those thousands by nibbling around the edges or maintaining the status quo. I lead the task force that addresses homelessness in our community, so I see the ramifications of the housing crisis every day. Housing is a human right, and we must do everything in our power to meet the needs of our community.

Housing isn’t the only issue that matters for Cambridge residents, of course. I was proud to serve on the mayor’s task force that led to universal prekindergarten coming to Cambridge next year. I worked with the city manager and our Department of Human Services to expand after-school programming and co-chaired the task force that led to the creation of the Community Safety Department, a department that will provide a non-police response to nonviolent issues in Cambridge. I also worked with the mayor and vice mayor to launch Cambridge Rise, a program to help reduce poverty.

My vision of Cambridge is one of a vibrant, diverse, international city. A place where people from different backgrounds can live together, play together and work together. I love that about our city. Our diversity is our true character, and we must preserve it. We must move Cambridge forward, not backward.

I know we aren’t going to agree on every issue, but I stand by my record of supporting policies and initiatives that improve lives. I believe in bold, compassionate leadership, and I believe I bring that to the council. You have lots of choices in this election, and with a minimum of at least three new members, experience and a proven track record matter when we have so many urgent challenges to address. With your help, I will return to the council to keep working toward the socially and economically just community we all want Cambridge to be.

I respectfully ask for your No. 1 vote on Nov. 7 or before with early voting. Thank you for your consideration. If you would like to help out these last few weeks, please email [email protected].

The writer is a Cambridge city councillor.