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Sophomores Seek Spots on Cambridge Municipal Boards

The Sullivan Chamber at the Cambridge City Hall before a meeting on Monday.
The Sullivan Chamber at the Cambridge City Hall before a meeting on Monday. By Katherine W.K. Smith
By Nicholas W. Sundberg and Lucy Wang, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: September 7, 2017 at 3:13 p.m.

While many of their classmates worry about election to one of Harvard’s exclusive social groups, two Harvard students are spending their sophomore falls vying for membership to a slightly different set of historic organizations: the Cambridge City Council and Cambridge School Committee.

Earlier this year, Will H. MacArthur ’20, a candidate for the School Committee, and Nadya T. Okamoto ’20, a candidate for City Council, launched their respective electoral efforts. After spending their summers in the area campaigning, each candidate will continue to sell Cambridge voters on electing college students to help run their city ahead of the November election.

The Cambridge City Council is legislative arm of the city, while the Cambridge School Committee is in charge of budgeting and policies for the local school districts.

MacArthur, who’s proud of the fact he’s been living in Cambridge since infancy, said that most of his summer was spent with his team preparing for the fall.

“I had a lot of great conversations with teachers, who had a lot more free time, and also just with parents and other residents, just so that I can make sure that my platform was exactly where I wanted it to be,” he said.

His team is composed entirely of recent alumni and students of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, something MacArthur said has helped shape his platform. MacArthur said his platform is focused on on engaging teachers, closing the “opportunity gap” for students and teachers of color, and including students from a variety of backgrounds, especially BGLTQ students.

“Students in Cambridge public schools are not quiet,” he said. “The problem is more that there’s not always someone there to listen to them...I think the experience that I bring as a recent graduate is one of the more unique things that I offer to the race.”

Okamoto, a native of Portland, Ore., has focused her campaign on lower housing prices, one of the dominant issues in Cambridge politics. She also spent a portion of her campaign focusing on making politics more age-inclusive, receiving an endorsement from “Run for Something,” a national progressive group that supports young candidates.

Nadya T. Okamoto '20 is running for City Council.
Nadya T. Okamoto '20 is running for City Council. By Grace Z. Li

Both College candidates emphasized the importance of participating in the election, pointing to the lack of participation in the previous municipal elections: In 2015, only 8.2 percent of registered voters ages 21-23 in Cambridge voted in the municipal election.

If elected, MacArthur said he will take time off from college. Okamoto has also previously said she would taking time off from school if necessary.

The Cambridge Municipal Election will be held on November 7.

—Staff writer Nicholas W Sundberg can be reached at nicholas.sundberg@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickWSundberg.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at lucy.wang@thecrimson.com.

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