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Cambridge Mayor McGovern Will Not Seek Re-election, Endorses City Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui

Cambridge City Hall is located near Central Square.
Cambridge City Hall is located near Central Square. By Margaret F. Ross
By Taylor C. Peterman, Crimson Staff Writer

Cambridge Mayor Marc C. McGovern announced in a letter posted Thursday that he will not seek re-election as mayor, instead endorsing City Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui for mayor.

McGovern has served three terms as a councilor and four terms on the Cambridge School Committee. In a letter published in Cambridge Day, McGovern confirmed that he will continue to work as a councilor in his fourth term.

In an interview with The Crimson Thursday, McGovern cited tradition as his principal reason for not seeking reelection.

“It’s been almost 20 years that anyone has served as mayor two terms in a row,” McGovern said. “It’s sort of a practice.”

The former mayor said in the interview that Siddiqui — who is finishing her first term as a City Councilor — has done a “tremendous job” and would bring a unique perspective to important issues in Cambridge as mayor.

“We’re dealing with a lot of questions around race and racism,” he said. “I think having a woman of color who grew up in public housing, who knows this community inside and out, is going to bring a perspective to that conversation that is going to be really valuable.”

Siddiqui will begin her second term on the City Council next year. Prior to serving as a City Councilor, she graduated from Northwestern's Pritzker School of Law and worked as a legal aide. She has focused on issues of affordable housing, civic engagement, and support for small businesses throughout her career, according to her City Council website.

Siddiqui could not immediately be reached for comment.

In his interview with The Crimson, McGovern also described the issues he found most pressing during his term that will continue to require attention in the future, including affordable housing and climate change.

“We have affordable housing issues, we have homelessness issues, we have climate issues, we have far too many people in our community who aren’t accessing the prosperity that exists in our city,” he said. “I know that Councilor Siddiqui cares about those things as much as I do."

McGovern said he was proud of what he accomplished during his term, especially when it came to issues of “social and economic justice.”

“We brought free breakfast to every student in the Cambridge public schools,” McGovern said. “We opened the first warming center for the homeless.”

"It’s not just always the big stuff,” he added. “Whether it’s providing shelter or food or pathways to better jobs or helping people overcome substance use disorder — those are really tangible things that have made a difference in people’s lives, and I’m really, really proud of that.”

In his letter, McGovern also cited other accomplishments during his term, including expanding free lunch for public school students and launching the Immigration Legal Defense Fund.

In the final City Council meeting of 2019, Vice Mayor Jan Devereux praised McGovern’s accomplishments as mayor, saying that he “rose to this role with tremendous passion, enthusiasm, and gusto.”

The next mayor of Cambridge will be elected from the nine councilors next Monday during the City Council’s first meeting of the year. Days before the meeting, McGovern said that he remains committed to serving Cambridge.

“I’m passing the torch,” he said. “Being mayor was an absolute privilege and a dream come true for a kid who grew up here. Being on the council does not diminish my commitment to the social and economic justice issues that I’ve always fought for.”

—Staff writer Taylor C. Peterman can be reached at taylor.peterman@thecrimson.com.

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