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As Progressive Stalwarts Exit Cambridge Council, Our Revolution Cambridge Endorses Five Challengers

Progressive organizing group Our Revolution Cambridge endorsed five Cambridge City Council candidates.
Progressive organizing group Our Revolution Cambridge endorsed five Cambridge City Council candidates. By Julian J. Giordano
By Muskaan Arshad, Crimson Staff Writer

Our Revolution Cambridge, a progressive organizing group, endorsed five candidates for Cambridge City Council and five for School Committee on Sept. 22.

The group endorses no Council incumbents and five challengers — former Council aide Dan J. Totten, climate justice activist and reverend Vernon K. Walker, Ayah Al-Zubi ’23, former Councilor Jivan G. Sobrinho-Wheeler, and bartender Joe McGuirk.

With two of Cambridge’s most progressive councilors — Quinton Y. Zondervan and Dennis J. Carlone — set to depart the body after this term, Our Revolution Cambridge is seeking to bolster the Council’s left wing. Both Zondervan and Carlone received the group’s endorsement in 2021.

The group also endorsed five School Committee candidates: Boston University education researcher Andrew King, and current school committee members Richard Harding, Rachel Weinstein, Jose Luis Rojas Villareal, and David Weinstein.

Our Revolution Cambridge has been active since 2017 as a local affiliate of the national progressive organizing group Our Revolution, which spun out of the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.). The Cambridge affiliate has previously been involved in local and statewide advocacy and endorsed candidates every year for local municipal elections.

Council candidates endorsed by the group went two for six in 2021, with only Zondervan and Carlone elected. That cycle, the group also endorsed Sobrinho-Wheeler as well as local activists Theo M. Skeades ’12, Nicola A. Williams, and Tonia Hicks.

When asked what the group prioritizes, Our Revolution Cambridge board member Henry H. Wortis said their “primary issue is housing. And we would say housing for the lowest income groups.”

“Over the last 15 or 20 years, the biggest demographic change has been the loss of 10 to 20,000 low-income residents, and of course that includes a disproportionate number of Black and brown people,” said Wortis.

Wortis said the group supports a set of hotly-debated amendments to the 100%-Affordable Housing Zoning Overlay, but wants to go further to support housing for low-income residents by pushing for an “alternative to those market-based mechanisms of approaching the housing question.”

When asked about the group’s endorsement process, Wortis said, “None of our endorsed candidates take developer or real estate-interest contributions.”

Additional priorities for the organization involve providing greater support to the Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team, a local non-police public safety alternative, and backing Cambridge unions in their fights for higher wages.

On the group’s School Committee endorsements, Wortis said they prioritized “the need to get an equitable public education system that allows all students to reach their highest potential.”

He called for higher investments into teachers through a “collaborative approach to negotiations with the unions, rather than a combative approach.”

Wortis noted that Our Revolution Cambridge also supports removing MCAS as a graduation requirement.

“MCAS results reflect the incomes of the families of students,” Wortis said. “It’s not a real measure of the quality of teaching or of progress.”

The group also supports universal after-school programs, hiring more educators of color, and anti-racist education initiatives.

Board members of Our Revolution Cambridge also attended a protest last Sunday at a gathering of the Cambridge Citizens Coalition over the latter group’s endorsement of controversial Council candidates Robert Winters and Carrie E. Pasquarello.

Wortis said on behalf of the organization that members were in attendance because they did not support the transphobic and Islamophobic social media posts made and shared by Winters and Pasquarello, calling on CCC to unendorse the two candidates.

Cambridge’s Council and School Committee elections will be held on Nov. 7, with early voting set to begin on Oct. 28.

—Staff writer Muskaan Arshad can be reached at Follow her on X @MuskaanArshad or on Threads @muskarshad.

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