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The Cambridge City Council elected Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui the new mayor of Cambridge for the 2020-2021 term by a unanimous vote at the council’s inaugural meeting Monday.
Siddiqui, a long-time Cambridge resident, is in her second term on the Cambridge City Council and will serve as Massachusetts’s first Muslim mayor.
Her election marks the end of Marc C. McGovern’s tenure as mayor of Cambridge for the 2018-2019 term. McGovern announced last week that he would not be seeking reelection, throwing his support to Siddiqui.
Prior to serving on the council, Siddiqui earned a bachelor's degree in public policy from Brown University and a law degree from Northwestern's Pritzker School of Law. She has also served as an AmeriCorps fellow at New Profit, a Boston nonprofit organization that works to improve social mobility for children.
In her address to the council at Monday’s meeting, Siddiqui discussed the role service has played in her life.
“When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a public servant,” Siddiqui said. “And I’m very proud of that answer, because service has defined my life.”
“Service is second nature in Cambridge,” she added. “It is one of our greatest strengths.”
Siddiqui also spoke about her family’s immigration to America from Pakistan and the impact Cambridge has had on their lives.
“I can only imagine how my parents must have felt, in a completely new place, rebuilding their lives with very little money, but a great deal of determination,” she said. “Thank goodness that place was Cambridge, a city that continues to welcome immigrants from around the world.”
Siddiqui also outlined her aims for her mayoral term, highlighting goals to create “more affordable housing and economic opportunity,” close “the achievement gap,” and improve the “response to instances of racism.” She concluded her speech with a call to “get to work.”
In the same meeting, Councillor Alanna M. Mallon was elected vice mayor in a unanimous vote in the first ballot. She succeeds Jan Devereux, who served as vice mayor for the 2018-2019 term but did not seek reelection.
Like Siddiqui, Mallon is beginning her second term on the City Council. Prior to serving on the council, Mallon worked as Educational Liaison to Mayor David Maher in 2015-2016 and has been working at Food for Free, a program dedicated to improving communities' access to healthy food, since January of 2016.
In her address to the council at Monday’s meeting, Mallon also discussed the importance of service in improving the lives of individuals.
“Big picture politics and ambitious policies sometimes overshadow the most important work and impactful work of the council: the power that we have to improve people’s lives through one-on-one constituent services,” she said.
Mallon added that service can unite the council behind a common goal.
“It’s when passions run high that it will be the most important to remember that this job is truly about service,” she said.
“We all serve with the end goal of making Cambridge a better, safer, and more livable place,” she added.
The Jan. 6 meeting of the council commences the body’s two-year legislative term. An oath of office was administered to the council’s nine members, comprised of seven incumbents as well as two newcomers who were elected in November.
The next City Council meeting will take place Monday, Jan. 13, with Siddiqui presiding.
In Siddiqui’s address, she spoke about her hope for a positive future for Cambridge.
“As mayor, I am committed to leading this council as we look ahead to a new decade,” she said. “We will rise to meet the challenges facing our community.”
—Staff writer Taylor C. Peterman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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