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Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui is prioritizing “community resiliency,” affordable housing, and education in her fourth run for a seat on Cambridge’s City Council.
Siddiqui was first elected to the Council in 2017 and has served three terms since. She was unanimously elected to serve as mayor for her second term on the Council in 2019 — becoming Massachusetts’ first Muslim mayor — and again in her third Council term in 2021.
When it comes to running for reelection this year, Siddiqui cited in an interview what she said is her love for working on broad policy issues and one-on-one with residents.
“I was a legal aid attorney, and it really wanted me to combine those two interests — applying public policy and constituent services and working one-on-one with people, and I think elected office is a great way to do that,” she said.
Siddiqui grew up in Cambridge after her family immigrated to the United States from Karachi, Pakistan, when she was two. She lived in Rindge Towers and Roosevelt Towers — two of Cambridge’s affordable housing developments — and graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School in 2006.
To pursue her passion for civic engagement further, Siddiqui earned her bachelor’s degree in public policy from Brown University and a law degree from Northwestern before returning to Cambridge to work as an attorney representing low-income residents at Northeast Legal Aid.
Siddiqui’s first term as mayor was mostly spent guiding Cambridge through the pandemic. During that term, Siddiqui helped forge an agreement to preserve more than 500 units of affordable housing at Fresh Pond Apartments.
She also established a guaranteed income pilot program, which gave eligible, low-income families $500, no-strings-attached monthly payments for 18 months. The pilot program became a full-fledged program in 2023 with the launch of Rise Up Cambridge during her second term as mayor.
The start of 2023 was challenging for Siddiqui, she said, given the police killing of Sayed Faisal, a University of Massachusetts Boston student, in January. Several protests erupted throughout the city in the months following, interrupting multiple Council meetings. Protests continue to this day.
“That’s been the most challenging situation to navigate through because the Council only has purview over certain things,” she said. “The fact is they’re looking for justice, but there’s really no justice in this.”
Siddiqui also said some of her accomplishments during her second term were the launch of Cambridge Promise, a pilot program that would fund free community college for Bunker Hill students, and the formation of a committee to work towards offering universal pre-K in Cambridge.
Universal pre-K will be offered to all four-year-old Cambridge residents at Cambridge Public Schools beginning in the 2024-25 school year.
Siddiqui has been endorsed by the Greater Boston Labor Council and A Better Cambridge — a local affordable housing advocacy group.
This election cycle, Siddiqui said she wants to work on all of the major issues concerning Cambridge, “whether it’s climate change, whether that’s universal pre-K, after school, education-related matters.”
“I also want to continue to just provide constituent services as far as affordable housing,” she added.
Siddiqui will face at least 17 challengers —including her current director of constituent services — and five of her current Council colleagues on Nov. 7.
—Staff writer Jina H. Choe can be reached at email@example.com.
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