Mariko Davidson

Mariko Davidson
2015 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
2 Ware St., Apt. 411
Cambridge, MA 02138

Contact information:

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Committee to Elect Mariko Davidson
2 Ware St, Apt 411
Cambridge, MA 02138

My background is unique among city council candidates. I was born in Hawaii and raised by a single “super” mom. An artist and a teacher, she taught me the value of service to my community.

Through perseverance and hard work, I was able to attend great schools. I hold a master’s in city planning from MIT that will enable me to provide technical and strategic planning as part of the city council.

Quite simply, I came to Cambridge for graduate school and never left. I’m an urbanist and civic designer. I served in Mayor Menino’s administration in the Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics where I started a Girls in STEM & Tech program. At the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I led the state’s new open data and technology policy effort for innovation and transparency in government.

I am a trained mediator and mediated disputes in Cambridge Small Claims Court giving me experience in negotiation and compromise.

Top Priorities
More affordable and middle-income housing - now
Currently, many families and individuals are priced out of Cambridge. It’s quickly becoming a place where we can no longer afford to raise our children. If I were on council, I would have voted for a greater increase in the linkage fees than the council recently passed. Cambridge is growing at a rapid pace and we need more funding for affordable housing.

I believe it’s time to stop thinking that affordable housing will just happen when millionaire developers build new their projects. We need to insist on creating affordable housing at the front end of the process. Nonprofit affordable developers need to be able to access capital and cut through the red tape to preserve and increase affordable housing.

Additionally we need to support our community members who are seriously struggling on the brink. The facts are clear: it's more cost effective in the long run for the state to provide affordable housing than emergency shelter in a motel.

We need to change the way we think about affordable housing. It should be just as valued, important and worthy of investment as fire, police, and other pillars of our community. Goodwill is not enough by itself. It has to be accompanied by actionable policy that gets people into homes they can afford.

Campaign finance reform
The practice of developers, their top employees and family members contributing thousands of dollars to candidates needs to change. I do not accept money from developers or special interests. Developers often have business before the city council. We need tighter regulations to avoid even the appearance of a conflict and to increase transparency.

Sustainable transit
This will continue to be a challenge as Cambridge grows. We need to have a multifaceted transit system that allows mass transit riders, drivers and cyclists to coexist and indeed flourish. I am a strong proponent of Vision Zero (no deaths on our roads) and Complete Streets (protected bike lanes). I don’t just advocate for these measures, I literally live for them – I’m a year-round cyclist and live car-free.

It is all too often that we read about yet another bicyclist’s death or injury on our roads. The evidence shows that protected bike lanes reduce deaths on our street. As a dedicated biker, I am reminded every day of the need to accommodate bikes on our roads - it eases traffic, reduces vehicle emissions, cuts commute time and adds to our health and well-being.

Institutional engagement with colleges and universities
The higher education institutions in Cambridge are among our most valuable resources. We need to improve our working relationships with them for the betterment of the schools and Cambridge.

Civic engagement
The ability to connect our residents to our government is the key to opportunity and a better, more effective democratic process. Greater diversity on the city council would better reflect our community. As an Asian-American woman, I can bring this perspective and diversity to the council.

Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density
In my travels around Cambridge talking to voters, there is definitely concern about developers “building on every square inch” of the city. This is a crucial time in our city’s history. How we plan now and how we handle development will determine our quality of life for generations to come. As an urban planner, I will bring to the council the experience and skill to plan strategically for our future. If done properly, our growth can bring access to opportunity for every resident.

We have to make choices about how we address affordable housing. Are we going to allow development to process unchecked with just a token nod to income diversity of Cambridge? Or are we going to partner with big developers and put the city in a position to demand that all development be linked to a substantial contribution to the city’s affordable housing inventory?

Economic Development and Commerce
Business balanced with the needs of a community is the lifeblood of a great city. While encouraging development, I will do so judiciously with the interests of the community in mind.

A solid workforce is necessary to maintain local business in Cambridge. I support raising the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour. It’s been done elsewhere whether by progressive municipalities – Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City – or voluntarily by companies willing to make their workers’ lives easier.

The current minimum wage is not a living wage for most Cambridge households or individuals. We would be making an investment in our community and our people by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I believe whether a candidate supports raising the wage will be an important factor for voters in November.

See top priorities.

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health; Open Space, Parks, and Recreation
I am a believer in conservation as it pertains to energy and the environment. This extends to public health as well. I am a strong environmentalist. As the stewards of our open spaces and natural resources, we have a responsibility to treat each with great respect and care. As a council member, I will always work for just that.

Technology is evolving all the time and with the resources we have in Cambridge we should always be on the cutting edge of what’s happening to improve conservation efforts.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation
These areas are among the most pressing of our time. Traffic can be choking at times, parking sparse and transportation many times unreliable. Easy access to multimodal transportation options are a key pillar in addressing congestion. Yet we have to deal with these issues and must do so with our quality of life in mind. Vision Zero (no roadway deaths) and Complete Streets (protected bike lanes) are policies I support.

Municipal Finance (budget, assessments, property taxes, etc.)
Cambridge rightly has the reputation of being a great place to live, work and play. However, we must not rest on our laurels. Development is rampant and the need for services is rapidly increasing. There is no reason why these shouldn’t be linked. As development grows, its contribution to providing the necessary services can grow as well. A willingness to make tough choices and the ability to prioritize will be sorely needed. I can provide both and more.

Quality of Life and Public Safety
Recent high-profile incidents in parts of our city demonstrate the need for us to be vigilant about public safety. We should be making efforts to address what is often the root causes of crime – poverty and homelessness. Cambridge, just like other municipalities – has its challenges in this area. I will advocate for programs designed to balance law enforcement with the need to eradicate poverty and homelessness.

Civic Participation
I believe strongly that increasing citizen access to city government is essential to creating opportunity and core to our democratic principles. For the past 10 years I’ve worked with communities on creative civic engagement -- in Mayor Menino’s administration, with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and now as the Managing Director of the civic-focused Engagement Lab at Emerson College.

Dear friends and neighbors,

I came to Cambridge for graduate school and stayed because I adore the city and its people. Since graduating from MIT’s Masters in City Planning program, I have served the communities of Cambridge, Boston, and greater Massachusetts. For the past 10 years-- in Cambridge and beyond-- my work has focused on improving the lives of citizens through municipal and community engagement.

I chose urban planning because I discovered how we build our cities determines your access to opportunity. Our zip code, the transportation, education, and housing in our backyard, plays a key role in determining our success in life. The good news is we can build Cambridge to be more equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant.

I believe our city government should reflect the diversity and interests of our community. As your city councillor I will work for more equitable housing and transportation infrastructure; a more robust innovation, transparency, and technology policy; and creative platforms for civic and institutional engagement.

Please join me in advocating for a more livable, equitable, and inclusive Cambridge. I would be honored to serve you.

Mariko Davidson

About Mariko:
Mariko is an urban planner, a civic data advocate, a year-round cyclist, and lives car-free.  She is also the Managing Director for the Engagement Lab at Emerson College—a civic focused, applied research lab.


  • Led the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ new open data and technology policy and technology effort
  • Launched a Girls in Tech education in Boston Mayor Menino’s Office
  • Improved walking and biking planning and infrastructure in Lawrence, MA
  • Mediated disputes in Cambridge Small Claims Court
  • Explored creative methods of civic engagement through East Boston Makers and Movers


  • Equitable, affordable, and middle income housing for homeowners and renters.
  • Sustainable transit infrastructure by advocating for Vision Zero and more Complete Streets.  Creating incentives for young entrepreneurs to grow and keep their companies in Cambridge.
  • Collaborating with students and faculty of our academic institutions to find innovative solutions to urban issues.


  • Informed policy-making for smart, responsive, and data-driven decisions.
  • Transforming City Hall into a digital service.
  • Civic engagement: make your voice heard -- in person and online.

   CCTV candidate video (2015)

Page last updated Wednesday, October 7, 2015 7:54 PM Cambridge Candidates