Over a decade ago, Cambridge’s vibrant tech and arts scene pulled me in—both major factors in my decision to attend MIT. Our tech and arts communities are why I stayed to found two businesses in Central Square. At danger!awesome, we teach community members and students to use laser cutters and 3D printers to make art and prototypes. And at Nimblebot, our software developers and animators drive a range of civil liberties and educational projects for clients like Mozilla and Fight For the Future.
As always, you can find out more about my policies and ideas for Cambridge on my website www.votenadeem.com; my office doors are always open, and you can always reach me by phone: 617.752.1006.
I am proud of the work I have done and the values I stood for in Council this term. That said, there is much still to be done. We need to move beyond simply discussing to actually acting on recommendations for comprehensive citywide planning. We must decide what kind of city Cambridge is, and what our goals and results will be. The solution to Cambridge’s housing crisis is not as simple as “build, build, build” more luxury units - the Council needs greater foresight and more diversity in its housing stock. When we do facilitate luxury residential and high-rent commercial development, we must demand more from developers in terms of affordable housing and other community benefits. As a renter, artist, and small business owner, affordable real estate is a real crisis that I and my businesses face every day. As an educator and a social justice activist, I will continue to advocate for greater access to afterschool activities and high quality municipal broadband for our families and students.
Below, I recap my first term accomplishments. They represent only the beginning of what I hope to achieve with you, the residents of Cambridge, and my colleagues on Council.
First Term Results
The past two years have been a resounding success! As a freshman councillor, I spearheaded an exciting education initiative, stood up to special interest dollars in government, fought for more community benefits from real estate projects, and helped spark community activism and youth organizing. During this last term, I was invited to the White House four times to discuss my unique approach to community-organizing, the future of makerspaces and hands-on STEAM programming, and successful means of developing more young, engaged leaders here at home. I was honored to represent Cambridge and to have the opportunity to collaborate with leaders from across the country on how to better serve our communities.
Here’s some more details on my service:
- - Community Organizing: I upheld my promise to commit ⅓ of my councillor salary to a dedicated community organizer. I am the only councillor to make such a pledge. Together, we have connected underserved families with afterschool opportunities, led weekly civics meetings to engage the community in decision-making, and trained civic and community leaders for future service.
- - Term Limits: I still have self-imposed term limits and I have connected with many up and coming community leaders and activists. I strongly believe that “any good leader must find even better leaders,” and my hope is that such actions help keep city hall fresh, while also encouraging a greater number of former councillors to return to our neighborhoods as mentors and leaders. To this end, I’m excited about three other new, like-minded community leaders who are now running for office. Check them out at: www.slateforcambridge.com
- - Affordable Housing: I continue to fight for a comprehensive approach to development and push for meaningful contributions to our affordable housing trust. I believe the Council must negotiate from a position of power with developers who want to build here—and must plan for these opportunities in context of other development going on locally and regionally. We must plan properly to mitigate traffic congestion and safety and to increase equity and access, when it comes to our housing stock and even our ground floor retail opportunities. My conversations in City Hall and my voting record shows that I have the strongest level of support out of my colleagues for dramatically increasing the linkage fees and inclusionary zoning percentage, both of which would add to our affordable housing stock.
- - 15/hr Minimum Wage: Increasing the minimum wage in Cambridge and across the country is a matter of wage justice. Cambridge residents and workers from all industries have vocalized their support of this measure, and I have facilitated meetings and organizing events with regional organizers to ensure that we are heard. There solutions we’ve found that will allow us to make an impact on hourly wage, on the municipal level. Now, as we meet with more and more small business owners and as we conduct a literature review of academic research, we are even more confident that there is a solution out there that will work for everyone, without costing jobs.
- - Accountability and Transparency: Together with my team, I regularly produce “byte-sized” weekly videos and blog posts that summarize issues and call for participation. Take a look at them here.
- - Prompted by serious citizen concerns, I was the first elected official to question the lack of transparency and accountability in the Boston 2024 Olympics plan, a bid which was ultimately canceled for Greater Boston. https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/10/06/olympics-opponents-weigh-city-elections/IXXyNOReOuyXdA1AX8fmbI/story.html]
- - Open Data Ordinance: I championed Cambridge’s new Open Data Ordinance and advocated for city and state transparent government disclosure initiatives. You will begin to see the benefits of open data as government departments share data more easily and more often—and as app authors begin to track and report on a range of important issue (like traffic, crime, energy use, economic data and budget data, etcetera).
- - Campaign Finance Reform: I am one of only two councillors to fully support campaign finance reform in Cambridge. I still do not accept special interest dollars, despite being approached regularly by the city’s largest developers. I believe that council members who accept significant campaign contributions from individual or corporate persons with real estate development business before the council presents an obvious conflict of interest, and I simply won’t do it.
- - Educational Equity: I was honored to co-chair, and ultimately draw unanimous council support for, an initiative to fund a new Out of School Time Coordination Office with approximately $1 million of city funding promised over the next three years (and about $200,000 already committed for expenditure this year). This work is aimed at internship coordination, educational equity, neighborhood outreach, and more—and truly became a team effort for which the entire council, city administration, school committee, and school department deserves equal credit. The way stakeholders were engaged and the way alignment was achieved is a hallmark for future coordination work, needed to align other Cambridge benefits and resources, including our arts and culture scene.
- - Arts and Community: I successfully advocated for the city to invest in the Foundry Building as a community arts and hands-on-learning space. I helped launch arts organizations like Art City Cambridge which has hosted local artists and sought to engage them in civic participation and arts advocacy. At an August committee meeting, I even led a group of buskers and HONK! performers into City Hall to show that the artists who enliven our streets every day are still here, and that they need municipal support to succeed. We learned in that meeting that our busking ordinance, our busking fees, and our placemaking (when designing city parks and squares) need a little bit of help from longtime performers, if we truly want Cambridge to be a world leader in public art, once again.
- - Municipal Broadband: Other cities in the United States have proven that a municipal commitment to broadband is not just plausible, it can be profitable for cities. I’m the leading advocate for and researcher of municipal fiber on Council and believe firmly that we must urgently have competitors to Comcast. As a city, we must make every effort to provide all residents with reliable, affordable, fast internet.
Thank you for taking the time to read this far. It’s been an amazing and humbling experience serving Cambridge for the past two years. Again, if I can answer any questions, please reach out.
2015 Endorsements: Cambridge Residents Alliance, Ward 6 Democrats, Sierra Club
Candidate's 2013 responses
CCTV candidate video (2015)