I want to tell you about two of my heroes and why they should work together.
Sam G. Greenberg ’14, one of the authors of Monday’s op-ed about Cambridge City Council candidate Logan Leslie, is a passionate advocate for the homeless. He’s spent years pouring his heart and soul into the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, fighting for a new youth shelter, and leading the Philips Brooks House Association. I can’t think of anyone who knows or cares more about our city’s less fortunate.
My second hero is Logan Leslie. He enlisted for the United States Army the day he turned 17, and he spent eight years risking his life in the Special Forces. Now, at 27, he attends Harvard on the GI Bill, drills for the National Guard each month, works another job every weekend, supports a wife and daughter, expects a newborn sometime this week, and struggles to pay rent for his West Cambridge home.
How are these admirable individuals related? Sam is my roommate, Logan is my boss, and they both want to make their city a better place.
The first thing I noticed about Logan is that he isn’t your stereotypical politician. Though raised a conservative, he quickly lost any attachment to partisanship. As Logan explained to me, when you spend nearly a decade in a war zone, the regular social divisions—politics, class, race, sexual orientation—become irrelevant. What matters is that you listen.
I serve as Logan Leslie’s campaign manager not because he’s an expert on homelessness, crime, or city politics. I work for him because he’s an expert at listening to others, and he’s dedicated to representing the interests of all Cambridge’s residents—including students, homeowners, and the homeless.
For Logan, homelessness is embarrassing—it’s embarrassing that we don’t do enough as a community to end it. Logan’s language might not be the most gentle, but he is open to adopting any solution that would solve our city’s most pressing problems.
Immediately after Monday’s op-ed, for instance, Logan contacted Sam to ask how he could refine his platform and language in regard to homelessness. He asked about potential mental health solutions and permanent supportive housing, he pledged to form a city-sanctioned task force on homelessness, and he invited Sam to serve as its student chair.
Think what could be accomplished if Councilor Leslie and Greenberg sat at a table with students and residents to develop innovative solutions to our city’s problems. There has never been a Harvard College student on the Council, so we can only imagine.
I also take issue with the op-ed’s suggestion that students don’t deserve to vote in this election because the Harvard administration doesn’t pay local taxes. Logan is not running to represent the interests of Faust, the Harvard Management Corporation, et al; he is running to represent us, the students—a markedly different group.
Additionally, the authors claim that we aren’t “entitled” to vote in Cambridge because we don’t pay property taxes ourselves. So, if you follow the op-ed’s logic, no Harvard student should vote in this election.
But as a student, what’s my alternative? Voting in Texas, a place where I spend less than a month each year, where I also don’t pay property taxes, and where I can’t even get married? If not, when do I earn the coveted privilege of voting in Cambridge? After five years? A decade? A few grand in taxes? Proof of literacy?
The notion that I shouldn’t vote in the place I call home is disheartening, arbitrary, and, as one commenter noted, darkly reminiscent of our country’s antebellum tax and property voting requirements. We live in Cambridge, and we live in a nation where voting in one’s place of residency is a right—not a privilege earned after a citizen is deemed worthy.
Just as Cambridge homeowners are profoundly impacted by Harvard’s decisions, the recent stabbings only steps from our homes remind us that we live here too. Twenty percent of Cambridge’s residents are students, and 11 percent representation on the City Council seems like a fair request. (And hardly radical: Berkeley has already adopted a student City Council district.)
The Harvard student body seems to agree. One thousand College students were already registered to vote in Cambridge at the beginning of the year, and our campaign registered nearly 550 more in only a few weeks.
So, as a card-carrying homosexual liberal Democrat, I will vote for Logan Leslie on November 5, confident that he will fight to eliminate the town vs. gown divide and create a productive two-way conversation between students and our city’s other proud residents.
More importantly, I know that he will listen to all of us.
Eric M. Cervini ’14 is a history concentrator in Lowell House. He is the campaign manager for Cambridge City Council candidate Logan Leslie ’16.
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