Leland Cheung

Leland Cheung
2013 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
157 Garden St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

Contact information:
Tel: 617-444-9080 (cell)
website: www.LelandCheung.com
e-mail: leland@electleland.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/electleland
Twitter: @lelandcheung

Send contributions to:
Committee To Elect Leland Cheung
157 Garden St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

My name is Leland Cheung, and I am running for my third term on the Cambridge City Council. As a recent alumnus of Harvard and MIT, a former entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and a new father, I have a firsthand understanding of all that Cambridge has to offer to its residents and a deep-rooted commitment of ensuring that our community continues to thrive in the years to come.

When my father immigrated to Cambridge from China in 1969, what he found here was so special that he became determined to instill in me an appreciation for the same. With occasional trips to visit relatives in China to compare my life to theirs, he showed me the importance of a community that governs for the future, catches people when they fall, and helps people create a better life for their children. I soon realized the dual nature of democracy - giving us on the one hand freedom, but on the other the responsibility to participate in shaping our government.

It was with that sense of responsibility that I ran for City Council after leaving the innovation economy in Kendall Square. For the past four years, I have worked tirelessly to realize these ideals for our community, earning a reputation as the hardest working City Councillor by passing the most legislation and proactively responding to every resident. Together, we've tackled challenging issues and worked collaboratively to improve our community. For more on my background and legislative victories, please visit my website at http://www.LelandCheung.com, email me at Leland@ElectLeland.org, or call my cell at (617) 444-9080.

As a new father, it is clearer to me now than ever that we all face the same questions my father faced when he first move here. How do we pass on our values through education, experience and example? How do we ensure that Cambridge continues to exemplify my belief that government can be a force for good and that, by working together, we can solve problems today and lay plans for a better future? Collectively, the choices we individually make define us, define our community, and define the world as it will be. Together, we've accomplished a lot, but the work isn't over yet. By voting Leland Cheung #1, you are sending a message that you want a responsive, innovative, and collaborative City Council who will never stop raising the bar for us and our children.

Leland Cheung has been honored to serve as a City Councillor for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts since 2009.

The son of immigrants, Leland developed a deep appreciation for American values and the importance community participation. Guided by these principles, he ran for office on the platform of strengthening the community and creating opportunities for the next generation. Leland carries out these beliefs as he advocates for job growth, government transparency and affordable housing across Cambridge each and every day.

Leland was first elected in while pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Before assuming his role as City Councillor, Leland worked as a Senior Associate at Masthead Partners, a Cambridge-based venture capital firm focusing on digital media, mobile, and internet infrastructure. He has used this background to guide his efforts on the City Council, and is currently the chair of the Cable TV, Telecommunications & Public Utilities Commission as well as the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Committee.

Throughout his tenure on the Cambridge City Council, Leland has remained committed to maintaining a style of progressive and innovative leadership that is akin to the moral, cultural, and intellectual climate of the surrounding community. As City Councillor, Leland has worked to preserve Cambridge's culture of entrepreneurship by facilitating an open dialogue between local businesses and community members throughout the development of Kendall and Central Squares. He has fought to maintain Cambridge's long history of promoting justice and equality by supporting measures to expand the rights of women, immigrants, and LGBT members of the community. He has partnered with local innovators to make municipal data more readily available to the residents of Cambridge through mobile applications. Most importantly, he has worked to ensure that the City of Cambridge is built on a foundation of community input – one that listens to the suggestions, criticism, ideas, and beliefs of its constituents.

Leland currently lives in Cambridge with his wife Yin and their newborn daughter, Lela. He can be seen commuting around Cambridge on a homemade electric scooter.

Education: Throughout this campaign, I'm on a mission to personally connect with each and every voter throughout Cambridge to find out what issues matter to them and learn how I can serve them more effectively going forward. The top concern that people are voicing to me is the importance of improving our public schools, which currently work well for some but not all. Relative to the rest of Massachusetts, our schools rank well into the bottom half despite our willingness to spend more per student than any other district. The Council doesn't prescribe school policy, but we do approve the budget. Since I've been on the Councillor, my colleagues and I have demanded answers and results from the school administration that have not been delivered. This year, I refused to be a rubber stamp and voted to hold the administration's budget in committee to give them the opportunity to provide more comprehensive answers to the questions the Council has been raising. We need to ensure we have a long-term plan to tackle persistent deficiencies, address parents concerns, and continually raise the bar. I won't let up until we have universal pre-k, expanded support services, and a top ranked school system that invests in our children – not just in buildings.

Regional Collaboration: For the first time in decades, the City of Boston will have a new mayor. When I chaired the first-ever joint meeting between the Boston and Cambridge City Councils, some of my colleagues scoffed – now, they're realizing the foresight of my actions. A new mayor in Boston brings the prospect of collaborating to tackle regional issues, including transportation, housing, municipal broadband, the fight against climate change, job creation, and more. I want to build on what we've begun to create a working relationship that could benefit Cambridge and the rest of our region immensely.


Safeguarding Affordable Housing: As a new father growing my family in Cambridge, I recognize the importance of protecting the unique spirit that lies within our community – we're a large, diverse city with a small town feel. It is essential that we maintain affordable housing options so that residents of all ages and walks of life are able to call our community home. During my time in office, I have prioritized reducing the foreclosure rate, stabilizing the housing market, and increasing the amount of affordable housing available throughout our City by:

  • as an advocate for increasing inclusionary zoning standards by ordering the City administration to undergo Nexus studies and staunchly supporting the preservation of 40B;
  • being a vocal supporter of increasing affordable housing options without clustering and preserving existing resources, including Craigie Arms; and
  • pioneering of City-wide discussions about preserving future housing needs for senior citizens.

To learn more about my views about keeping housing affordable, visit my website.

Sustainability: Promoting an eco-friendly way of life is the key to ensuring our community is both healthful and sustainable. We only have one environment, and I took steps throughout my time in office to preserve our surroundings by investing in parks, hybrid taxis, and open spaces to maintain our community feel. I led the policy initiative to develop a curbside composting program to reduce waste, cut down on greenhouse gases, and delay the need for new landfills. This year, I've also led the charge in urging Cambridge investors and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to divest from fossil fuel companies by testifying at the State House, urging Harvard University to revaluate their portfolio, and bringing stakeholders from the Cambridge Retirement Board to the table to discuss plans for the future. Other environmental initiatives I've spearheaded include:

  • working hand-in-hand with our Department of Public Works to develop both a curbside composting program and single stream recycling;
  • leading the initiative to preserve the large trees in front of the old Cambridge Library and throughout the City;
  • pioneered the charge for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Cambridge institutions to divest from fossil fuels; and
  • worked to ensure our parks and open spaces are clean, green, and appealing to all.

To learn more about my past work making Cambridge more sustainable, visit my website.

Public Safety: Nothing is more important than ensuring that the streets of our city are places across which our children, family members, and neighbors feel safe to walk. By working collaboratively with the Cambridge Police Department, I have pioneered a variety of safety measures to ensure that our community is secure and informed going forward, including:

  • advocating for the development of the BridgeStat, a crime reporting system that uses data analysis to track crime patterns throughout the City, prevent future crime, and alert neighbors about danger in their area;
  • led community meetings with Neighborhood Sergeants from the Cambridge Police Department and neighborhoods during times of increased crime patterns to make residents aware of safety measures, provide clear information about past occurrences, and offer safety resources from the Cambridge Police Department; and
  • made campus safety one of my highest priorities by evaluating university safety policies and analyzing national campus crime statistics.

For more information about my past efforts to make Cambridge safer, visit my website.

Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy: During my time in office, I have been proud to lead several initiatives to pave the way for local economic growth with a focus on creating and sustaining jobs. I have worked to make Cambridge more business friendly by reevaluating out-of-date laws that hinder business growth, worked behind the scenes to keep companies like Novartis in the City, and partnering with Boston City Councilors to hold the first ever joint meetings on the topics of economic development and talent retention. Prior to joining the Council, I worked as a venture capitalist in Cambridge investing in startup companies and know what it takes to grow businesses in the City. Some of my accomplishments include:

  • pioneering a historic zoning change that requires all new large-scale development to set aside 10 percent of all new space for startup companies to preserve Kendall Square's entrepreneurial spirit;
  • protecting locally-owned and independently-operated businesses as a vocal advocate against burdensome City licensing and permitting fee increases and working with City staff to reevaluate archaic laws that hinder business growth;
  • leading a reform to ensure that Cambridge's taxpayer money be stored in local banks as opposed to an overseas bank;
  • creating a public-private-academic partnership for the Entrepreneur Walk of Fame to celebrate entrepreneurship and encourage job creation in Cambridge; and
  • working with Cambridge Local First to develop Local Economy Week, an annual celebration of locally-owned and independently-operated businesses in the City.

To learn more about my efforts to grow our economy, visit my website.

Protecting Cambridge's Workers: Throughout my tenure on the Cambridge City Council, I have been proud to stand with the working men and women of Cambridge as partner and advocate. Whether it be repeatedly insisting on the use of union labor on all projects undertaken by the City, leading by example by vocally supporting labor agreements and prevailing wages on all initiatives, or steadfastly fighting against institutions that have tried to dismantle unions, circumvent labor agreements, or unnecessarily lay off employees, I am proud to work on behalf of labor each and every day. Most recently, I have:

  • facilitated collaborative discussions between unions and Cambridge's Planning Board to put developers feet to the fire in all upcoming projects to hire contractors that abide by community standards;
  • proactively reaching out to developers with new business before the City to ensure that they used union labor and pressuring them to do the right thing, and ensuring that union labor was included in each and every up-zoning proposal passed by the City Council;
  • demanded that MIT treat all workers with compassion and respect throughout contract negotiations by calling for a committee meeting to discuss alternatives to a policy that would have adversely affected unionized and non-unionized workers; and
  • stood with the clerical workers at Harvard University in support of comprehensive healthcare and competitive wages, including speaking at rallies and sending letters.

To learn more about how I've protected the working men and women of Cambridge, visit my website.

Keeping City Hall Honest: I believe that transparency in City Hall is necessary to foster trust in government. Building on this mission, I introduced a 'Good Government' rules change requiring the City Council to publicly post any new City Manager's contract before it is voting on – before, it was approved simply as a motion on the floor. In order to make the City website accessible to residents with disabilities, I developed a live-streaming video of Council meetings on the City website that works with all – not just some – computers. I introduced a non-emergency phone line (311) pilot that connects residents to the services to they need more efficiently. I am currently using online tools to crowd-source an open data ordinance, allowing the public to take a hands-on approach in the lawmaking process, working with neighborhood associations to create new procedures to better connect them to City Hall, and continuing to introduce good government rules changes to make our community feel at home at City Hall and connect them to it via technology. I apply the same rule of transparency to myself, and encourage residents to call my cell phone if they have questions or concerns about items that are before the Council.

For more information about how I've opened City Hall to residents, visit my website.

What is your vision for Central Square over the next decade?
It flies in the face of our expressed value of environmental sustainability to only have one-story buildings directly above any of our major underground transportation hubs. Going forward, I support proposals for zoning changes in Central Square that will allow the Square to grow while preserving its unique and vibrant spirit. This can be achieved by removing minimum parking requirements from new developments, making smart increases to density while still requiring a generous amount of retail frontage be reserved for locally-owned and independently-operated businesses and reducing the number of large banks on the street. I support transforming city-owned parking lots into a healthy balance of mixed income housing (including both middle income and low/moderate income options with 2-3 bedroom family units); outdoor public space including pocket parks, play areas and plazas; and affordable retail and non-profit space for arts and culture. I believe this approach will support our expressed goals of environmental sustainability by strengthening neighborhoods around transit hubs and diversity by ensuring that people of all backgrounds and walks of life are able to call Cambridge home.

Furthermore, I have been instrumental in supporting non-zoning changes that were suggested by the C2 Committee, including developing a business improvement district, allowing existing retailers to engage in outdoor sidewalk vending options, and more effectively utilizing the space to allow for interaction. Going forward, I believe it is essential that we respect and follow through on the community input provided by the C2 Committee. As chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Committee, I am hosting a series of committee meetings commencing on October 16 to eliminate homelessness in Central and Harvard Squares without pushing those in need to other neighborhoods or cities. In ten years, my ideal Central Square would preserve its quirky and unique personality while allowing for increased housing, more local businesses, and a safer outside environment. To learn more, visit my website.

Investing in Parking and Transportation – Cambridge is the fifth most densely populated city in America and the second most densely populated city in Massachusetts. The large number of cars, buses, bikes and trucks are equally matched by the number of pedestrians who walk the sidewalks. Throughout my short tenure on the Council, I have repeatedly committed to investing in infrastructure, ensuring that drivers, walkers and bikers can get to their destinations safely, including:

• Bringing the Hubway bikesharing program to Cambridge to provide residents with a cost-effective and sustainable way to traverse the City;

• Fighting to reduce congestion, speeding, and crowding of parking on our streets;

• Spearheading safety initiatives to protect cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers including state-of-the-art truck side guards, pylons, and heightened police enforcement.

• Urging the Traffic Department to grant the benefit of doubt to residents who had parking violations due to unavoidable circumstances;

To learn more about my efforts to improve infrastructure, visit my website.

To learn more about me and the issues I care about, please take a moment to visit my website at http://www.LelandCheung.com. I am always looking for eager volunteers to join my campaign and appreciate additional support. Take the first step and sign up today. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will join me on Election Day to make Cambridge #1!

Leland Cheung 2013 Candidate Profile - Cambridge Chronicle

   CCTV candidate video (2013)

Page last updated Monday, October 7, 2013 10:07 PM Cambridge Candidates