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Quinton Zondervan Declines Reelection Bid, Endorses Four Candidates for Cambridge City Council

Quinton Y. Zondervan, pictured middle, declined to run for reelection to the Cambridge City Council this year.
Quinton Y. Zondervan, pictured middle, declined to run for reelection to the Cambridge City Council this year. By Julian J. Giordano
By Julian J. Giordano, Crimson Staff Writer

Quinton Y. Zondervan announced last Sunday that he will not seek a fourth term on the Cambridge City Council this fall, becoming the final sitting councilor to declare his intentions ahead of November municipal elections.

“I was never planning to do this for the long term,” Zondervan said. “It’s one of my values that people should serve in office for a limited time.”

Zondervan joins Dennis J. Carlone and Alanna M. Mallon in stepping back from the nine-member body, leaving at least three of the Council’s seats open to new faces. Nearly two dozen challengers have entered the race since nominations opened last week.

The outgoing councilor has already announced his support for four challengers and said he may support more. He has endorsed his current aide, Daniel J. Totten, as well as Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, Vernon Walker, and Ayah Al-Zubi ’23.

Zondervan’s announcement comes less than two weeks after the passage of the third and final component of the Green New Deal for Cambridge, a policy package that he championed and said is a highlight of his time in office.

A self-described environmentalist and social justice activist, Zondervan was involved in Cambridge activism well before joining the Council in 2018. He was president and board chair of Green Cambridge, a non-profit corporation dedicated to “enhancing Cambridge’s sustainability,” from 2011 through 2017.

From 2008 through 2017, Zondervan also served on Cambridge’s Climate Protection Action Committee, a city manager-appointed advisory committee now known as the Cambridge Climate Committee.

As a climate activist, Zondervan worked on the committee behind the Net Zero Action Plan that the Council adopted in 2015. As a councilor, he sponsored amendments and new climate ordinances to enforce a net-zero emissions vision of Cambridge.

Zondervan currently co-chairs the Council’s Ordinance Committee and sits on eight of its 10 other committees — more than any of his peers.

He counts a policy order funding a non-police public safety alternative and ordinances allowing for the establishment of cannabis retail stores and production facilities, streamlining the process for housing developers to build 100-percent affordable units, and establishing a network of protected bicycle lanes across Cambridge among his biggest legislative achievements.

“There’s still lots of work to do,” Zondervan said. “On climate change, certainly, but also other issues. We still have a massive housing crisis in Cambridge.”

“There’s also more practical things like finishing bike lane implementations, improving pedestrian safety, improving our public transit infrastructure,” he added.

The outgoing councilor called on Cantabrigians to participate in local government as “active citizens.”

“As elected officials, we depend on them,” he said. “It's much harder to pass difficult, groundbreaking policies if people are not engaged on the issues.”

Zondervan added that “students can be very effective advocates,” referencing Harvard and MIT student advocacy for the Green New Deal.

“There’s no shortage of opportunity for students to get involved,” he said. “And we always appreciate it.”

Correction: July 22, 2023

A previous version of this article incorrectly described legislation that funded a non-police public safety alternative in Cambridge as an ordinance. In fact, this was a policy order.

—Staff writer Julian J. Giordano can be reached at julian.giordano@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @jjgiordano1.

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