Richard Harding

Richard Harding
2017 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
189 Windsor St.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact information:
Harding Campaign
PO Box 391994
Cambridge, MA 02139
E-mail: or

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Richard Harding
PO Box 391994
Cambridge, MA 02139

Richard Harding, a lifelong Cantabrigian, began his service as an intern at Joe Kennedy’s Citizen’s Energy, then served as Director of Constituent Services for Senator Steven Tolman and is the past Chair of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee. He has served on the board of the Young People’s Project and of the Community Arts Center. Richard is the President of the Port Life Foundation and a founder of the Port Action Group, a neighborhood group focused on violence prevention. Through the Port Action Group, Richard led the effort to secure the funding and institute a streetworker in Area 4 to help connect formerly incarcerated individuals with services and resources.

Recently, Richard has organized and facilitated two community wide conversations in the area of justice –  Civil Rights: Policing, Discretion and Race, and Not Guilty, a forum that examined police conduct in the Eurie Stamps and DJ Henry incidents. Richard is a proud recipient of the NAACP Education Excellence Award and the Cambridge Peace and Justice Award.

As a School Committee member, Richard’s bold, effective leadership included serving as Vice-Chair and co-chairing the Budget Committee and Contract Negotiations. Richard has co-chaired the Kids Council and brought his leadership to the Neighborhood Safety Task Force’s Employment Sub-Committee. Richard currently runs the Men of Color Health Initiative and is a program consultant to the job training program, CambridgeWorks. Richard attended the Kennedy Elementary school, received his high school diploma from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and is a graduate of Fitchburg State College. His daughter is a 2015 graduate of the Cambridge Public Schools.

Housing (in general) and Affordable Housing (in particular) – priorities, plans, proposals
One of the most pressing issues facing the city is affordable housing. Cambridge has a major and distinct problem which is that it is unaffordable to rent and unaffordable to buy. This has caused a housing crisis and the spatial displacement of some of the city’s most vulnerable who are in need of housing.

The attack on and degradation of working families is unacceptable, some of our policies exacerbate the problems these families are facing and we have to find ways to support working families. We need creative solutions for affordable and low income housing with a clear understanding of who we are trying to serve – both low income residents and middle income families. With over 3000 people waiting on a stagnant housing list, we have to be proactive in increasing the number of affordable units.

Many of the projects that have been pushed through have needed relief through special permits and variances. This relief should come with benefits for the neighborhoods and community residents. The city must have the goal of building more family friendly affordable housing within the inclusionary housing and not micro units. We cannot allow developers to exploit this loophole.

We need to explore raising the inclusionary zoning guidelines to 25% within certain parameters and ensure that qualifying units are family sized and not micro units. We must find ways to work with developers such as those in the North Point, Alewife and Volpe projects to create more affordable housing and still use our values to determine what is needed and connect these projects on the periphery to the community.

Another idea is to increase the tax incentives/relief for neighborhood friendly affordable housing such as PortLanding and Immaculate Conception. Vail court needs to be an opportunity to see these policies, our community values and the need for affordable housing working together.

Economic Development and Retail Viability
Supporting small businesses in Cambridge makes our community more vibrant. We need to help current business stay by making sure there is easy access to the goods and services they supply, listening to their concerns about reductions in parking, supporting cleanliness and maintenance of public spaces, and easing the burden of maintenance services (thrash pick up and recycling). We need also to make it easier to open a small business by streamlining the process.

One idea to support retail viability is to pilot a 4 am license for a small number of current license holder in the squares. With the advent of the Winn Casino in Everett, local businesses will feel the pinch of having a dining and entertainment juggernaut in the area. For Cambridge to compete as a world class city it must have the amenities and possibilities this would provide. This pilot program would allow us to test the pros and cons of the changes to our entertainment and dining zones.

Income Inequality, Economic Opportunity
Cambridge is the case study for the haves and have nots, very affluent people sharing a city with working class families that are struggling mightily. We are surrounded by the most innovative square mile in the world, but in the margins lie honest hard working, sometimes poor citizens and families, that are struggling to survive. If you walk around our neighborhoods, in the shadow of the largest pharmaceutical companies and world leaders in IT, you will find lines wrapped around food pantries as hard working families struggle to make ends meet.

To address the income inequality gap, we must:

  1. Continue to support the Cambridge public schools and the pursuit of academic excellence for all students. Our public schools have students who qualify for free and reduced lunch at a proportion that makes clear that we have to make better connections to quality job training and jobs that meet their needs and futures, and specifically we must make connection to jobs in the knowledge economy.
  2. Supporting the statewide initiative to increase the minimum wage in Cambridge to $15. We must support and increase our living wage in the city and continue to have an open and frank conversation about closing the income inequality gap.
  3. Collaborate with biotech and life science orgs in Kendall square to connect residents to the knowledge economy, through requires intensive training so participants can compete for career making jobs.
  4. Support efforts to reduce the “cost burden” of high rent. 78% of current low-income households in Cambridge are “cost burdened,” spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. More than 50% are “severely cost burdened” spending over 50 percent of total income on housing. Our public housing and subsidized programs should lead the way.

We must not criminalize poverty. We must continue to support the safety net services that provide families with what they need. We must continue to support our food pantries and specifically we must support programs that help to alleviate homelessness, especially those that service individuals with substance abuse issues and those in recovery.

I would work to bring back the extended T hours. This is good for residents who work late nights, many of our families are supported by late second shift and third shift workers who cannot find economical ways to get to and from work. It will also support local small business, who have been challenged to find people to work night time shifts as employees are not able to get home from work in a safe and affordable manner.

Human Rights, Civic Unity, Diversity
As your city councilor I want to be the go to person for social justice in and out of city hall.

I stand firm in my support of Cambridge’s stance on protecting our members who are under attack by the Trump regime which has attempted to divide our community with an agenda that supports and advances xenophobia. Cambridge must support all of our people with the clear fact that they are all a part of the fabric that creates our community. Cambridge is great but is not immune from the policies at the national and state level, we must proactively seek justice for all of our residents.

Having a young daughter, I understand the blatant inequality around pay that women face, there is still not equal pay for equal work. Currently white women make 77 cents on the dollar, black women make 63 cents on the dollar and Latina women 55 cents compared to their white male counterparts. It is an indictment on the city if we cannot level the playing field and eradicate this disparity. We need to examine and fix the gender pay gap as more women are becoming the breadwinners in their households and we know that those households with children are disproportionally disadvantaged by this pay gap.

We need to make sure that there are open and transparent processes in hiring for city jobs. Far too many times good candidates who happened to be women and people of color have been passed over, we must examine this to ensure we have a diverse, talented workforce. I am particularly concerned with fire and safety jobs, where Cambridge people are being shut out. The pressures of affordability are leading to our families and younger residents having to leave the city due to high housing costs. I plan to propose an extension of the residency eligibility for public safety jobs for 10 years such that those who have lived, learned and spent their most formative years in Cambridge, who have deep ties to the community and are invested in it, can serve and protect it.


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Page last updated Wednesday, October 18, 2017 9:30 AM Cambridge Candidates