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Ilan Levy Focuses on Engagement, Interdependence in Fourth Council Run

Ilan Levy.
Ilan Levy. By Courtesy of Ilan S. Levy
By Marina Qu and Monique I. Vobecky, Contributing Writers

After unsuccessful campaigns in 2015, 2017, and 2019, Ilan Levy, a software engineer, is focusing on bringing together Cantabrigians in his fourth run for City Council this year.

“In Amish society, if a house burns down, the community gets together to rebuild it. In ours, we call an anonymous insurer,” Levy said in a video posted to his campaign website. “We have forgotten our interdependence. We have forgotten our community.”

Levy, who did not respond to a request for an interview, wrote on his website that he wants to use the 2021 election to launch an “Encyclopedia of Nonsense, a repository of imaginary solutions for the future of our cities.”

Levy contends that Cambridge’s Plan E charter — which invests executive power in a city manager appointed by a city council which performs legislative and oversight functions — makes the city run like a business, focused on financial outcomes rather than social progress.

“We need to stop thinking like economists,” Levy said in the video. “It destroys community. Community means we recognize, appreciate, and understand our interdependence with each other and mother nature.”

Reforming contract zoning policies would be another priority if elected, alleging that current zoning policies in Kendall Square have led to “more traffic, less affordable housing, displacement, loss of open space, loss of floodplains, loss of community,” according to his 2017 website.

Levy is originally from Belgium but has lived in Cambridge for two decades, according to his website. He wrote in a 2017 campaign statement that he served on the board of the East Cambridge Planning Team from 2007 to 2011 and advocated against the controversial redevelopment of Sullivan Courthouse from 2013 to 2015.

Levy was one of 23 arrested during a protest in Boston for Michael Brown and Eric Garner in 2013. With the hope to “resolve our deep systemic issues,” he became a United States citizen and ran for the city council in 2015, according to his 2017 campaign statement.

“I got involved with Mass. Action Against Police Brutality…and at one of the protests I got arrested,” Levy said in 2019. “There was quite a presence of police power and I figured that any system that requires that much violence in order to maintain itself must be wrong and…that’s why I’m doing politics and being involved.”

Levy also encouraged Harvard students to extend their activism beyond campus into local politics.

“I know there is a lot of activism at the University, but I find it very unfortunate that that activism doesn’t expand into the city and into the neighborhoods,” he said in 2019. “Local politics in particular can be the one place where we can start making a real difference.”

In his 2021 campaign video, Levy focused on social activism and engagement with Cambridge residents.

“​We cannot afford to wait for a leader,” Levy said. “We have to get together and barn-raise our vision for our cities.”

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