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I’m running first and foremost because I love this city and the people in it. My family has called Cambridge home for 5 generations. Throughout my life I was taught that we all have a responsibility to leave our community better than how it was left to us. This is why I became a social worker, working with some of the most vulnerable children and families in Cambridge and across Massachusetts. It’s also why I ran for local elected office. I am passionate about this city. I am honored to have a seat at the table to make decisions that will shape the future of Cambridge for generations to come. I can assure you that even if we don’t always agree, you will not find anyone who cares more or works harder on behalf of my fellow Cantabrigians.
I’m also running because as great a city as Cambridge is, there are many in our community who are struggling. They are struggling to pay their rent, struggling to pay their bills, struggling to put food on their tables. In a city with the resources we have, this is not acceptable. You may be surprised to know that 18% of Cambridge’s children live below the Federal Poverty Guideline, that is higher than the state average, and when you control that number for what it really costs to live in Cambridge, 48% of our children live in income insecure homes. You might not know that on any given night there are over 300 homeless people on our streets and in our shelters. Many are veterans, women escaping domestic violence and those struggling with mental health and addiction issues. You may not know that deaths by opioid overdose on our streets doubled from 13 in 2015 to 26 in 2016, and we will surpass 26 this year. Cambridge is an amazing place, but if we are truly going to be the socially and economically just community we want to be, then we must do better caring for our most vulnerable.
A third reason why I’m running is because we are in a scary political time. Never in my lifetime have I seen such blatant racism, sexism, and xenophobia coming from the White House. It is more important than ever that we have local leaders who not only are willing to protect those who are under attack, but who will publicly resist this bigotry and hatred and continue to have Cambridge lead the progressive movement.
So, why should you consider honoring me with your #1 vote? There are many great candidates running for City Council. This is by far the most talented pool of candidates I have ever been a part of and we all stand for very similar values. You have a tough job ahead of you. When you are deciding who will receive your all important #1 vote, when you think of me I would like you to think of two things: 1. Collaboration and 2. Concrete action.
Collaboration has become a dirty word in politics. Bi-partisanship is a thing of the past. In Cambridge elections we don’t have political parties but we do have groups that separate themselves into “sides” and working with someone from the other “side” can be politically costly. That is not me. I have filed major policy initiatives with every member of the City Council. My responsibility is to the people of Cambridge, not to any “side”. If I believe that a colleague is doing something that will benefit our residents, then I will work with them, and I have worked with them. We need a City Council that doesn’t just pay lip service to collaboration, but believes in it and lives it. That is who I am.
As a social worker, I solve problems. I am not the type of elected official that just talks about what should be done, I take concrete action to make it happen. When Trump started attacking undocumented immigrants I filed the policy order recommitting Cambridge to remaining a Sanctuary City and directing our City Manager to plan for any funding cuts that may come from the Federal Government. I then created the position of Liaison of Immigrant Affairs, a position that will be funded by the City to support our documented and undocumented immigrants. When the city was entering year 9 of our 10 year plan to end homelessness, I called for a new plan, with short and long term goals be developed, I pulled together the cities of Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, Medford and Malden, to create the first metro Boston regional conversation on homelessness, and I secured funding for Cambridge’s first warming center for the homeless so those unable or unwilling to enter a shelter will have a warm place to go during the winter.
My work on the City Council has earned me the endorsement of such progressive leaders as Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Attorney General Maura Healey, State Senator Sal Didomenico and State Representative Marjorie Decker, State Representative Jonathan Hecht, State Representative Jay Livingstone and State Representative Dave Rogers, not to mention numerous labor unions, the Sierra Club, and Unite Here Local 26.
I thank you for taking the time to read this introduction and I hope that you will review the rest of my answers. I want to thank Robert Winters for this great community services. I respectfully ask for your #1 vote on November 7th so I can continue working to make Cambridge the socially and economically just community we all want it to be.
As important as development is to helping us maintain the high quality of public services we have in Cambridge, we must also be mindful that unbridled development is not in the city’s best interest. We need to ensure we have zoning that makes sense for our neighborhoods, that we are willing to work with developers to create buildings that we call can be proud of and we need to ensure that developers, who are making great deals of money, are giving back to the community and supporting the people of Cambridge.
We need to shift the conversation about development from the divisive, “winners/losers” or “good guy/bad guy” narrative to one in which developers and the community have goal-oriented, honest conversations about how development affects the community and how we can minimize the negative impacts. As I have often stated, “I want developers to scream but not run away.”
I am not afraid of height and density, especially in places near transit hubs. This is both important for the creation of much needed housing, and for the environment, as building near public transit reduces car ownership.
Some people believe that if we stop building market rent housing that people earning high incomes will stop moving to Cambridge, and thus we will stop gentrification. I disagree. People are moving to Cambridge because of our strong job market, our safe community, our fine schools, and our great city services. If we don’t provide more housing, it won’t result in people not moving here, it will only create bidding wars for the housing stock already here, driving up prices and forcing lower income residents out.
I support the Envision Cambridge process because I believe that looking at the city as a whole when it comes to zoning, economic development, environmental impacts, transportation etc. is a prudent measure to help ensure that we have a vision to guide us in making decisions for generations to come. We can’t allow this process to fall to the same fate as so many other studies. I don’t want the Envision Cambridge report to collect dust on a shelf. With a project this large no one is going to be happy with all aspects of it. What has happened in the past with other, smaller scale reports, is that when folks are not happy with the recommendations the city and the Council back off because of political pressure. We cannot go through this three-year, 3+ million dollar process only to sink it because we are afraid of political backlash.
The result is that we have seen a boom in population. A boom that our housing production over the past decade has not kept pace with. The result has been skyrocketing prices as people enter bidding wars for homeownership and rental properties.
Since joining the Council, I have made affordable housing my priority. Along with Mayor Simmons as co-chairs of the Housing Committee, I have taken the lead on:
I am proud of my work on this issue and I will continue taking concrete action to create and preserve affordable housing in our city. Here is what Ellen Shachter, a Cambridge resident and long-time affordable housing attorney and advocate had to say: “Many candidates share my progressive values, but Marc is the one candidate who best knows how to both maintain his principles and work with others to get important things accomplished on the critical issues facing Cambridge.”
Here are some of the things we can do to address this crisis:
Three examples have been the property at Vail Court, the property on Concord Ave. near the Belmont line and the city owned parking lots in Central Sq. I called on the City to initiate eminent domain proceedings to acquire the dilapidated property on Bishop Allen Drive. The city has taken this action and this property that has been a blight on the community for over a decade will be converted in affordable housing. As chair of the Finance Committee I took part in conversations regarding the purchasing of property on Concord Ave. The city then partnered with HRI, an affordable housing developer, and soon they will be starting construction which will yield over 90 affordable units. I also joined then Vice-Mayor Dennis Benzan, on a policy order directing the city to assess building below market rent housing on city owned parking lots in Central Square. When the city controls the property, we are in a better position to partner with affordable housing developers to create more below market rent housing.
Now, these are not the only things we need to do. We need to address land costs, housing speculation, graduate student housing, vacant properties and ultimately jobs and wages so that people can earn more money to meet the cost of rising housing prices. There is no silver bullet answer to this crisis, but if re-elected, I will continue to be a leader in addressing this crisis.
Economic Development and Commerce, Retail Viability and Affordability:
Another issue facing many of our businesses, especially restaurants, is that many of their employees cannot afford to live in Cambridge and even communities like Everett, Chelsea and Boston, which were affordable option in the past, are now too expensive. We are in danger of losing many of our much-needed workforce.
Some of things we can do is require new development to supplement local retail. We have done this already in some developments. Developers can do this in a number of ways from building smaller, retail footprints so rents are less, or by directly supplementing rents. We also need to continue supporting our Economic Development Division of the Community Development Department. The EDD offers special trainings, individual assistance and financial help to small businesses.
Many businesses have been hurt by city construction, most notably the businesses in West Cambridge, who have suffered through years of sewer separation construction. At this point the city does little more than put up signs encouraging people to visit these stores during construction. That is not enough. We need to look at helping these businesses make up lost revenue, especially in cases when construction goes on for years.
We also must make sure that as we place more demands on local businesses such as the plastic bag ban, polystyrene ban, raising the age to by tobacco products to 21 (all issues I led on), we have to help businesses adjust to these new demands and that we find ways to help offset any costs to businesses already under great financial pressure. Therefore, I filed a policy order leading to the city agreeing to pick up recycling for Cambridge businesses, a cost that was previously placed on the business owners. This was a creative way to help cut a little overhead and put a little more money back in local business owner’s pockets.
As a social worker for the past 25 years, I have dedicated my life to fighting for social justice.
Here are just a few things I have done as a member of the City Council:
Therefore, I called for the creation of the Mayor’s Commission on Income Insecurity. As Chair of this commission, I worked with city officials, nonprofit leaders and members of the community to answer the question: “What does it really cost to live in Cambridge?” We then looked at how many families are “Income Insecure”, meaning they may not be “In poverty” but still do not earn enough money to meet their daily needs.
Here are a few of the ways I have tried to battle for Economic Justice and against income insecurity:
This is why I created the Metro Boston Homeless Summit, a series of meetings held between the cities of Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, Medford and Malden to address homelessness on a regional basis. If we are going to move our homeless off the streets then we need a coordinated and shared effort.
Here are some of the things I have done to address homelessness:
Human Rights, Civic Unity, Diversity:
Therefore, I spend a great deal of time in our neighborhoods. I visit public housing to listen and share information. I visit senior housing buildings, not just at election time, to hear what our seniors need. I stop and talk to our homeless to hear what is working and what is not working in our city. I hold regular office hours every Monday from 9-11 for anyone to visit and talk to me about whatever is on their minds. I try to be the most accessible City Councilor I can be so that I am hearing from all of the folks who live in our city, regardless of whether or not they attend City Council meetings.
Cambridge is doing many great things when it comes to combating climate change, but we cannot be complacent. We must take bold and aggressive action when it comes to environmental protections and we must work closely with other communities in this effort because Cambridge cannot do it alone.
Here are some of the things I have done regarding climate change since joining the Council:
Safe Street Infrastructure:
We need to come together as a community in our shared commitment to public safety. Drivers can no longer be unwilling to hold on to parking at all costs. Bicyclist need to support a network of separated bike lanes and not expect one on every street. The divisiveness and political posturing during these conversations is keeping us from making the progress we need. The City needs to continue to invest money in safe street infrastructure and do so at a more aggressive pace. People’s lives depend on it.
Here are some of the things I have done regarding safe street infrastructure since joining the Council:
Here are some of the new spending and initiatives during my time as Finance Chair:
Cambridge Public Schools:
While serving on the School Committee we spent a great deal of time talking about how we were going to close the achievement gap. It’s a conversation still going on today. One of the conclusions I came to was that no matter how much money we put into our schools, no matter how great our teachers were or how committed our administration was, if we didn’t tackle issues of disparities in early childhood education, income, housing, and opportunities, we were never going to close the gap we all want to close so desperately. This was one of the main reasons I ran for City Council, because I felt I could have more of an impact on a wider range of issues facing our most vulnerable families.
One of the first actions I took after being elected to the City Council was to ask for the formation of an Early Childhood Education Task Force. That task force has developed a plan to improve and expand early childhood opportunities in Cambridge. As the Finance Chair of the City Council, I helped allocate $2.3 million dollars over the past two years to open additional classrooms in city run preschool programs, to offer vouchers to low-income families to attend high quality early childhood programs and offer training to home care and other day care providers to help align expectations with the Cambridge Public Schools to ease a child’s transition to kindergarten.
I have also supported and successfully advocated for funding for the Weekend Backpack Program, started by fellow City Council candidate, Alanna Mallon. This program provides healthy food to low-income children over the weekend. Students who take part in this program have improved attendance, performance and their families have engaged more in school activities. When Governor Baker cut funding for this program, placing the program in jeopardy, I held a series of meetings with the City Manager and Food For Free, the non-profit that oversees the program, and Cambridge made up the gap in funding and now has a line item in our budget to support this much needed and successful program.
For years the relationship between the City Council and the School Committee has been stressed. Having served on both, I understand this tension well. To help improve the working relationship between our two elected bodies, I held an additional meeting between the Council and School Committee during the budget process to share ideas and hear about challenges facing our schools so that the Council could be more supportive. I also filed a policy order to create a subcommittee made up of three City Councillors, three School Committee members, the City Manager, Superintendent and other department heads, so that we can have regular communication to ensure that we are working together on behalf of our students and their families.
We don't know all of the details of Bunker's story, but we do know that he was found filthy and starving on the streets in Tennessee and brought to a kill-shelter where he was days away from being 'put down.' Through a network of volunteers, he and a few of his fellow,
soon-to-be-euthanized neighbors at the shelter were transported from Tennessee to a loving foster home in New Hampshire where we found him. He has adjusted beautifully to living with us and now, instead of worrying about his basic survival, Bunker's biggest concerns are figuring out how to get an extra treat and in which directing he wants to go for his walk on a given day.
My work and advocacy for animals earned me the honor of being named the MSPCA’s 2016 Local Legislator of the Year. I am truly humbled by being recognized by such an amazing organization as the MSPCA and I will continue to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Here are some of the things I have done regarding animal rights and welfare since joining the Council:
Collaboration With Other Municipalities/State:
It is vitally important that we improve our working relationship with surrounding communities because issues like housing, climate change, homelessness, transit, opioid addiction and social justice don’t have borders.
Therefore, I pulled together the communities of Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, Medford and Malden to form the first Metro Boston Homelessness Summit. Our group has met for the past several months to talk about services we offer in our respective communities, how we can better coordinate services and to learn from one another. We have heard from experts working with the homeless, state legislators working on these issues, and homeless folks themselves about what we can do better. If re-elected, I would like a host a similar group to address housing issues facing our communities.
Cambridge also has a role to play in advocating at the State House. I have a positive working relationship with our State Representatives and State Senators. I have worked closely with State Representative Marjorie Decker on housing issues, immigration issues, and worker’s rights. I have worked closely with State Representative Jay Livingstone to help achieve improvements to Magazine Beach. I have worked closely with Senator Sal Didomenico on early childhood education and with State Representatives Jon Hecht and Dave Rogers on traffic, housing and other issues facing our shared constituents. My efforts have earned the endorsement of all of these progressive, elected officials.
List of Endorsements
Reelection Campaign Announcement
June 21 – It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that I officially announce my intention to seek re-election to the Cambridge City Council. I am honored to have served as your City Councillor for the past four years. During that time I have met dedicated, caring, passionate members of our community, and have been able to advance issues such as affordable housing, homelessness, income insecurity, immigrant rights and animal welfare. I am committed to continuing my work on behalf of all residents of Cambridge, especially those who find themselves under attack from a White House that appears determined to make life for our most vulnerable even more difficult.
I'm running because Cambridge needs to be dedicated to achieving Social and Economic Justice for every resident regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, legal status or zip code. From outside Cambridge it appears that everyone is prospering. Billion dollar companies employ thousands, housing prices are through the roof, our median income is higher than the State average. But there is another reality. 18% of our children live below the Federal Poverty Line and when you adjust that number for the Cambridge Security Standard (what it costs to actually live in Cambridge) that number jumps to 48% of our children living in financially insecure homes. On any given night there are hundreds of homeless on our streets and in our shelters. In 2016 we had 26 overdose deaths, up from 13 the year before. Our seniors are finding it more and more difficult to remain in our community. This is not acceptable. If we are going to be the socially and economically just community we wish to be, then we must do better. I will not rest until every resident of Cambridge has the opportunity to thrive.
I'm also running because I, as many Americans, crave Progressive, common sense leadership that evades the national level. We are in an unprecedented time in our Nation's history. Never before have we seen a president so determined to turn his back on so many. It is more important than ever that we have local leaders who are willing to resist and stand up against the hatred coming out of the White House. Cambridge, as one of the most progressive communities in our country, needs to lead by example. We need to have local representatives willing to push back and protect the most vulnerable in our community. This is a role I have played on the Council and one I hope to continue to play with your support. Together we will continue to ensure that Cambridge is a leader for all people.
Finally, at the end of the day, I am running to make the lives of the people of Cambridge better. Sometimes that is through bold policy, sometimes that is through starting supportive programs. But many times, that is through individual assistance. I am running for the 74 year old woman who came to my office hours because she needed a new place to live and didn't know what to do, who I was able to help obtain housing. I'm running for the homeless man who I was able to help find work and a stable place to live. I'm running for the victims of the Berkshire Street fire who I was able to help relocate to other homes in Cambridge in time for the holidays. I love the people of this city. I love being able to help make their lives better. There is nothing else I would rather do than be in a position where I can advocate for Cambridge residents in need.
We are in one of the most divisive times in our history. Collaboration has become taboo. Although we must hold strong to our values and push our agenda forward, we must also be willing to work with others. How does this play out in Cambridge? Despite the majority of Cambridge residents in agreement on major issues, we see a great deal of division when it comes to finding solutions to these issues. As a City Councillor, I have taken a different approach. I have sat down and worked with various community groups, even those who have different views from my own. I have worked with every member of the Cambridge City Council, from animal welfare work with Councillor Carlone, to immigrant rights with Councillor Mazen, to supporting small business with Councillor Toomey, to early childhood education with Councillor Cheung, on zoning issues with Councillor Maher, to regulations for short term rentals with Councillor Kelley, to environmental issues with Councillor Devereux, and dramatic changes in our affordable housing policy with Mayor Simmons. You will not find a more collaborative member of the City Council During this time of division. I believe my record of working with every member of the Council, as well as various community groups, sets me apart.
It is easy to talk about the things you wish to accomplish, but much more difficult to achieve them. Over the past two terms I have been a leader in the fight to address our affordable housing crisis. From collaborating with Mayor Simmons to triple the amount of money commercial developers must pay the city when they build a new building, to again partnering with the Mayor to increase the amount of housing residential developers must provide the city from 11.5% to 20%, I didn't just vote for these increases, I took concrete action to make them a reality. All members of the Council understand that we need to do more to support our homeless population, but I made assertive moves to pull together the communities of Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, Medford and Malden to form the Metro Boston Homeless Summit to address homelessness on a region basis. I acted decisively to push the city to develop a new task force to address homelessness, and to allocate $250,000 in next year's budget to open Cambridge's first Warming Center for the Homeless to support our homeless during the winter months. When the White House attacked us for being a Sanctuary City and attacked our undocumented neighbors, I created the Liaison of Immigrant Affairs out of my office to support undocumented immigrants who were in need of services. I then worked with the City Manager to allocate funding in next year's budget to make this position an official city position. Concrete action requires assertive, decisive, collaborative efforts by council members: efforts I put forth evey day.
We are at a pivotal time in our history. It is more important than ever that we have local leaders with proven records to ensure the welfare and safety of our communities. I am invigorated. I am determined. And I am asking for your support so that together we can continue to move Cambridge forward for all.
To learn more or to help my campaign over the next several months, please visit www.marcmcgovern.com. Thank you, Cambridge, for the opportunity to serve you.
CCTV candidate video (2015)
|Page last updated Friday, October 20, 2017 10:33 AM||Cambridge Candidates|