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Patricia Nolan

Cambridge City Hall is located near Central Square.
Cambridge City Hall is located near Central Square. By Margaret F. Ross
By Kelsey J. Griffin and Christina T. Pham, Contributing Writers

Patricia “Patty” M. Nolan ’80, who is running for Cambridge City Council, has framed her campaign around what she says is her unique combination of being an outsider and having experience within city governance.

Nolan attended Harvard College and has lived in Cambridge for 25 years. The Chicago native spent several years as a corporate consultant at McKinsey and Company, before she ran two small businesses —nan environment firm and a telephone reseller. As the mother of two children who graduated from Cambridge public schools, Nolan has also served on Cambridge School Committee for 14 years.

“I can bring those skills and that experience and that effective leadership to a wider set of issues on City Council,” she said. “I think Cambridge relies sometimes too much on thinking, ‘Well, we can solve this ourselves’ instead of looking outside the city for best practice.”

Nolan has kept education at the forefront of her current campaign, calling on the council to build more schools, preschools, after school programs, and summer programs.

Nolan’s platform promotes a vision of Cambridge as a “livable, welcoming city,” calling for improved public transit by ensuring a safe network of bicycle lanes across the city. Her campaign website notes her love of cycling both around the city and across the Northeast, a hobby she said opened her eyes to the need for increased bicycle safety.

She also said she understands the issues residents face concerning affordable housing and believes Cambridge suffers from a trend of over-development rather than “smart and thoughtful” development. Her plan for the affordable housing problem involves inclusionary zoning percent increases and higher linkage fees.

“We're not really building neighborhoods. We're just putting so many more units of housing there without thinking of the attendant infrastructure, the community space, the schools, the libraries, you know, the quality of life,” Nolan said.

Nolan said she also wants to see Cambridge as a leader in reducing emissions. She hopes to work to ensure that the city uses a strict process for purchasing services.

“I think the other thing the city could do is work very closely to ensure that every single element of purchasing of city services are as environmentally responsible and sustainable as possible,” she said.

Nolan noted Harvard’s contribution to improving the city of Cambridge by commending Harvard student volunteers’ work in Cambridge schools and across the city. Nolan also praised Harvard’s decision to recommit $20 million to an affordable housing program.

Still, Nolan said she believes that there is potential for increased partnership between Harvard and the city of Cambridge. She advocated for greater involvement of leaders across Harvard’s graduate schools.

“We don’t make enough use of their intellectual horsepower,” she said. “I would love to see more of that collaboration.”

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