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Recently-Elected Cambridge City Councilors Discuss Priorities

Recently-elected Cambridge City Councilors said they will prioritize ameliorating inequality in the city during their term, which starts in January 2022.
Recently-elected Cambridge City Councilors said they will prioritize ameliorating inequality in the city during their term, which starts in January 2022. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Sarah Girma and Jennifer L. Powley, Crimson Staff Writers

Ahead of their inauguration in January 2022, recently-elected Cambridge City Council members said in interviews that their priorities include addressing climate change and tackling inequity in the city.

The nine councilors — who include seven incumbents and two challengers who won the election earlier this month — will take office in January of next year and serve for a term of two years.

Councilor Quinton Y. Zondervan said climate change and policies like the Green New Deal Zoning petition will remain two of his priorities during the next term. The petition proposed by Zondervan would charge new buildings a fee depending on their lifetime emissions. Part of the money collected will fund green new job training programs, particularly for low income and minority populations.

Burhan Azeem — the youngest candidate and a challenger who won a seat on the council in this year’s election — said housing is an issue “very close to [his] heart.”

“I grew up with a lot of housing instability,” Azeem said. “I think that ending exclusionary zoning, which has a racist history and keeps Cambridge inaccessible to a lot of people, is the next thing I would like to tackle.”

Azeem also said there are “a lot of opportunities” for housing in the Alewife area to help address the affordable housing crisis.

Vice Mayor Alanna M. Mallon said the new council has a “tremendous opportunity” to reflect on the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic and use federal relief funds to reform Cambridge.

“We can really divert a lot of our energy, our effort, our intentional policy — alongside funding — to address some of those deep inequities,” Mallon said. “Whether that's universal pre-K or municipal broadband or ensuring that people have access to safe and secure and affordable housing,”

In addition to passing legislation, the newly elected council must select a mayor from among themselves. Cambridge has a council-manager system of government, so voters do not directly elect the mayor. Past mayors still on the council include Councilor Marc C. McGovern, Councilor E. Denise Simmons, and current mayor Sumbul Siddiqui.

Several councilors said they have not yet discussed who will be the next mayor and vice mayor.

“It's a little bit early in the process, so I think that as we get closer to inauguration day we'll know more of the details,” Azeem said.

Mallon — the current vice mayor — said she expects the next term’s elected mayor to prioritize helping vulnerable Cambridge residents.

“I will be looking for a mayor that will be driving bold policies and really thinking about the impact that we can make on vulnerable residents and families,” Mallon said. “The bulk of the work that I know I have done and the mayor has done has really been in service to resourcing and supporting the most vulnerable in our community, and that work needs to continue.”

“The policies that we set and the priorities that we make in the next two years are really going to tell us a lot about who we are as a community and I'm excited to be at the table thinking about these policies,” she added.

—Staff writer Sarah Girma can be reached at sarah.girma@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGirma_.

—Staff writer Jennifer L. Powley can be reached at jennifer.powley@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferlPowley.

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Cambridge City CouncilMetro NewsMetroCity Council Election 2021