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Cambridge Vice Mayor Mallon Will Not Seek Reelection, Says Pandemic Brought New Challenges

Cambridge Vice Mayor Alanna M. Mallon, pictured at a City Council meeting on Sept. 12, 2022.
Cambridge Vice Mayor Alanna M. Mallon, pictured at a City Council meeting on Sept. 12, 2022. By Julian J. Giordano
By Samuel P. Goldston, Crimson Staff Writer

Alanna M. Mallon, who has served as Cambridge’s vice mayor since 2020, will not seek reelection to the Cambridge City Council this fall.

Mallon, who was first elected to the Council in 2017, did not give any specific reason for the decision in her email announcement at the beginning of this month.

Her decision comes as Cambridge’s 2023 municipal elections begin to take shape, guaranteeing an open seat on the Council. Former Councilor Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler announced earlier this month that he would seek to return to the body.

In an interview with The Crimson, Mallon reiterated the lack of a particular reason, though she cited the Covid-19 pandemic as a trying time that has made governing Cambridge more difficult.

“We were making a lot of policies that were affecting people’s children, their businesses, their livelihoods,” she said. “A lot of people can get very excited about something which before Covid would have been somewhat small. I mean, I do it. Everyone does it.”

According to Mallon, the city became especially polarized around the “hot-button issues” of transportation and housing. Transportation policy discussions were among the Council’s most contentious this year, as councilors and residents sparred over bike lanes, two-way streets, and traffic safety.

Mallon has championed the construction of bike lanes and other safety measures, to the chagrin of many car-borne Cantabrigians, who have made their voices heard in public comment throughout Council meetings in recent years.

The polarization of the Covid-19 moment did not alone define the vice mayor’s time in office, however. Rise Up Cambridge, which provides $500 per month to families earning below 250 percent of the federal poverty line for 18 months, began accepting applications on June 1 and follows directly from a previous pilot program backed by Mallon, Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, and Councilor Marc C. McGovern in September 2021.

Mallon said she was inspired when she saw “the nonprofit community, the corporate community, the city — everyone — come together and say, ‘This is something we believe in.’”

Mallon’s close relationship with Siddiqui, the vice mayor said, will be another positive memory of her time in office.

“Mayor Siddiqui and I have always been partners in politics and sisters in service,” Mallon said. “So it was very easy for us to develop a very quick partnership, and thank god, because we were sworn in in January and then 10 weeks later we were in the throes of a complete shutdown.”

Calling City Manager Yi-An Huang ’05 “a real gem of a human being,” Mallon expressed confidence in city leadership in the years to come. Though the last several years have been challenging, Mallon said, “City Manager Huang is really on a good path to lead our city with whoever is in leadership come January 2024.”

“When you serve in local government, it’s very personal,” Mallon said. “You see folks at the dry cleaners, you see them at your children’s swim meets, and it’s very difficult to serve right now.”

—Staff writer Samuel P. Goldston can be reached at samuel.goldston@thecrimson.com

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