Send contributions to:
I was proudly born in Cambridge, MA and raised by two hard working and supportive parents, both of whom emigrated from Latin America to set a stage of opportunities for my siblings and me here in America. A product of our public school system, I graduated from Cambridge Rindge & Latin in 2006. From there, every stop along the way to this campaign has involved helping others, mostly youth, to tap into their fullest potential so that they are able to become the leaders of tomorrow.
After high school, I had plans to further my education and to pursue athletic opportunities, however, I became a father at the age of 19. Some might say that life got in the way, and it certainly did. My wife and I were committed to not becoming another tragic statistic, so with support from our families we have been incredibly blessed to defy all of the odds. We are now happily married raising two wonderful boys. Our eldest son attends a Cambridge public school, and we hope to have our toddler follow in his footsteps. My journey from a Cambridge kid to a teen parent has shaped my passion for guiding and enriching young people, as well as serving the Cambridge community. As a native Cantabrigian, I feel a sense of responsibility to apply the knowledge and the experiences I have gained to help establish an environment in Cambridge that cultivates a variety of passionate leaders for generations to come. This is a pivotal time for Cambridge and we need to work together to uphold the culture of diversity, inclusiveness, and innovation that our city has rightfully earned!
My campaign is going to operate in the most cost effective manner possible, so that I can focus on important core values. This means no website, no mailings, only social media interactions, and consistent face-to-face conversations. Grassroots organization is centered on developing and sustaining authentic relationships and "meeting people where they're at," this is what I plan to do. I want to engage in meaningful and thoughtful conversations with my fellow citizens so that together we can showcase the real stories of those who live in this City and emphasize the unity in community. Join me and let's build.
Top 5 Priorities:
This issue is very important to me. Many of my friends and family have been forced to move out of Cambridge as a result of the outrageous prices for rental units and homes. Cambridge should be a city where everyone has an equal opportunity to rent or own a home that is affordable. We have lost too many families since the elimination of rent control. The gentrification that happened in Cambridge cannot and will not continue to push out our families.
I am often urged by others to move away from Cambridge into a neighboring city where I could pay a mortgage on a house that would cost me less or the equivalent to renting in Cambridge. When you have kids, like I do, it is very tempting to do. However, I'm conflicted by what I would be giving up in order to decrease my living costs. Cambridge is where I want to be, and it's where the people that grow up here deserve to stay.
With a family counting on me at home, I'm on a pretty tight budget to get the most out of my money. I know many families are in the same predicament. I would love to help local farmers continue to grow locally and bring their produce into Cambridge, to expand farmers markets and the affordability of this option. I would like to help locally owned bodegas and convenience stores work on a strategy to increase their reach in the community. Finally, it's important to continue to create tax incentives for local business that are passionate about food and are willing to work with us.
I want to keep families in a Cambridge where they are able to enjoy everything our city has to offer. We need to maintain our commitment to being inclusive. We need to work together so that we don't lose our identity, which revolves around diversity.
Our non-profit organizations across the city help to enrich the lives of others. It should not be the norm for these organizations to fend for themselves until one of them needs our help to stay afloat. I would love to sit down with our community organizers and non-profit leaders to create a dialogue that will help us collaborate in order to better serve our community. By creating a non-profit funding program, we can help our non-profits thrive. We need to close the gap between government and non-profit organizations in Cambridge, as a City we need to help our organizations better equip their staff members with the necessary skills to be successful. I will work on creating a training program that will help train staff members on career development, program development, and grant writing. We need to connect our non-profit organizations in Cambridge to any and all available resources.
Cambridge Public Schools Alumni Support (Life After Education)
Our teachers do a wonderful job of educating and empowering our youth to be launched into success after high school. The issue I see is that when our youth are sent off to college, hands are wiped clean, we smile, and we focus on the next batch of graduates coming up behind them. I would love to collaborate with schools, non-profit and for-profit organizations to create a program that welcomes our young adults back into the city that nurtured them and provide them with opportunities to work and rejuvenate our communities. By partnering with local business and institutions to create internships and other employment opportunities we will attract more young adults back into Cambridge.
Health and Fitness
Thankfully, communities across America have become more committed to healthy lifestyles. As a community we can encourage and support one another in this important initiative. I believe that the best approach is to roll out more initiatives that encourage and educate about healthier options/active living.
A plastic bag reduction move should require the city to supply and restock reusable bags. Whether free, or a dollar to a good cause, reusable bags should be made available to all in an effort to demonstrate the city's deepest commitment to ensuring we have the cleanest environment possible.
Our youth should be the focus of most of these initiatives. For example, by removing smoking products from pharmacies, we can reduce the chance of a young person having easy access to purchase these products.
Youth today are consumed with cell phones, tablets, video games, and television. Sponsoring and carrying out recreational activities on a grand scale can help our youth realize that there is more to life if you just look up. This agenda would include hiking trips, sports tournaments, social recreation initiatives, and community service projects. To engage businesses in our community to participate in this initiative would make the experience of youth participation a golden opportunity to further connect them as key members of our community. Our commitment to the importance of developing social skills will in turn be a service to our schools and neighborhoods.
Cambridge has a rich tradition of producing competitive teams with quality talent and sportsmanship. It is important to support and create opportunities for every desiring athlete to be able to play somewhere. Shutting someone out from having the opportunity to participate in a sport should never be tolerable. There should always be a plan B. We want our youth to stay busy and to be able to flourish socially with the unique experience of being a part of a brotherhood or a sisterhood that is a team. With strategic mutual support from our leagues and youth centers, we can help close the gap between the student and the athlete.
Here is a list of some current issues that I believe we should also face head on:
Lowering the Homelessness Rate
It absolutely killed me to see homeless people sitting outside in Central Square on Christmas Eve. My wife and I were on our way to a family dinner and we felt helpless. We ended up pouring them cups of coffee from a Dunkin Donuts Box 'O Joe. While bringing in new businesses to Central Square is part of a strategy to revitalize the area, we should put an equal amount of focus into helping the growing homeless population become stabilized and matched with services. As a city we are not doing all that we can to help those in need. We need to deal with the real issues that create homelessness Cambridge and not try to mask the problem by opening upscale businesses.
While we all know that anyone can walk into City Hall, I believe that we should carry out more initiatives to further showcase the building as the central focal point of Cambridge. I propose hosting movie nights in the summer and even more activities to bring people together. I would love to see regular City Council community breakfast opportunities for people to mingle and engage with Councilors on a personal level. I am a firm believer that if you create hospitality you are true change. We want our citizens and visitors to feel welcomed and create opportunities for engagement. The MLK service project at City Hall that took place in January is a marvelous example. Cantabrigians came together as one to give back to the community in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. Lets continue to build on this momentum!
Bicyclists and Drivers Sharing the Roads
Both parties coming together is key here. We have a great bicycle system in place here with the proper lanes marked on our roads. However, both parties can benefit from signage on the streets such as 'no idling in bicycle lane' and 'bicyclists: please wait for green'. Negotiating a truce between drivers and bicyclists' starts from the ground up, meaning, we must tap on the shoulders of our avid bicyclists to donate their time to youth centers and schools across Cambridge to teach our youth how to ride safely. Instilling the ethics early on that we wish to see will make a world of difference.
Public Toilets at Public Parks and Playing Fields
As long as we can trust that the proper maintenance will be carried out, this move is a must. We want people to enjoy our parks, not cut an experience short because somebody needs to use the bathroom. I remember working at the Boys and Girls Club on Windsor Street and taking kids to Columbia Park, if someone had to use the bathroom, the only option was to walk back to the building. We want our residents to enjoy their time out with their families and not have to worry about simple things like bathroom breaks. In most cases, the park visit was cut short. I am also hoping that as a result, indecent exposure will also decrease.
Oct 5 - This past week, Cambridge City Council Candidate and 2006 CRLS graduate, Luis Vasquez returned to his old stomping grounds to tour the newly renovated facility and to be a guest speaker in a civics class for senior students.
Vasquez started the classroom conversation with a message, "First off, I'm jealous. You guys are spoiled. The renovation left you with a beautiful school to enjoy and to feel even safer in than before. CRLS is packed with resources driven by people that have 'been there done that'; I urge you to use them. I didn't, and that's my only regret. What I got by with, was adults seeking me out to push me ahead because they believed in me. We can taste success quicker once we realize our own potential. That didn't happen for me until I was 18 and I found out I would be a father. The biggest blessing of my life to date."
Students submitted questions beforehand that were intertwined into the conversation with Vasquez. Topics ranged from why students should care about the City Council, the structure of local politics in Cambridge, how our community is changing, advice for achieving goals, and Luis' motivation for running.
"Don't view me as a politician, because to me the role of a Cambridge City Councilor is to be a Community Leader. A city as unique and as supportive as ours deserves authentic leadership. Whether I become a City Councilor or not, I can continue to be a Community Leader and more importantly, a role model for you. That is what I value the most, and I encourage you to 'give' throughout your own careers."
To conclude the hour-long visit, Vasquez divided the students into two groups and moderated a friendly debate discussing; the police station moving away from Central Square, if term limits should be applied to the City Council, and whether deciding the Mayor should be a public voting process.
"Luis should be a teacher. He connected with us. It was incredibly fun to learn from him. I'll be more aware of how my City operates." Said a student from the class.
Vasquez had previously visited Cambridge Rindge and Latin during the beginning phases of the renovation in 2009, when he brought the World Series Trophies and Wally the Green Monster to the high school on behalf of his community work for the Boston Red Sox. "Whatever great things I get to be a part of in my life, I want Cambridge to be a part of it too. It's an ode to the incredible support system here that gave me hope and opportunities to reach positions where I can do then do the same for others." Reflected Vasquez on his respective visits to the high school.
At 25, Luis Vasquez is the youngest City Council candidate on the ballot this year. If elected, he will become the youngest to have ever been elected to the Cambridge City Council.
Municipal elections will be held on November 5th.
City Council Candidate, Luis Vasquez, was a guest on ImprovBoston's "So That Happened" show with host, Sam Ike. The interview consisted of light-hearted conversation and an opportunity to talk about the upcoming Cambridge City Council election.
The interview immediately sprung into action with the host pulling out the infamous Rolling Stone magazine cover featuring suspected marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Vasquez was quoted in the article and commented about it for the very first time. Vasquez took a good look at the magazine and asked, "How did you get this?" referring to the popular move for businesses to ban the issue. "I had a homeless guy from New Hampshire smuggle it into the show for me," joked Ike.
Vasquez said that he never received a heads up from Rolling Stone prior to the release of the controversial cover. "It's a great article by Janet Reitman, but I'm really disappointed that my name is affiliated with the cover. I understand it was a marketing move, but why take advantage of a national tragedy? It just wasn't the right move. I can't help but to think of the four young and promising lives that were lost."
Sam Ike, a local comedian by trade, asked Vasquez to share his vision for Cambridge, "I want a Cambridge that everybody can live in and enjoy. Obviously, it can't be done all at once. It's going to take baby steps, but it has to happen. We're in a City that's in high demand for many of the right reasons. It's only fair to continue to build on ways to give people access from all different backgrounds. My run stems from a personal experiences that I want to prevent others from having to go through." Vasquez elaborated on his experiences of homelessness as a child, striving in the Cambridge community during his upbringing, becoming a teen parent and having to move out of Cambridge because rent was high, then making his way back into Cambridge with his heart set on cementing his roots into place by serving his community. "My background is in youth work. I made a commitment to myself to give back to others all throughout my twenties. I'm 25 now. Running for City Council is an avenue to continue building on that goal."
Interview topics also included: Vasquez' appearances on CNN during the Marathon Tragedy, his Bridging the Gap blog for the Cambridge Chronicle, being on Nerf boxes, and marrying his high school sweetheart.
As the interview concluded, Vasquez presented the host with his very own campaign t-shirt. Vasquez also tossed a few t-shirts to studio audience members. Host Sam Ike then invited Vasquez to participate in the last improvisational segment of the night - to the delight of the studio audience. "Absolutely," responded Vasquez.
"Sam and Luis had great chemistry together. I'm glad I came today. Luis earned my vote by demonstrating that his intentions for running come from a genuine place. He's not trying to be like anyone else. He's being himself. We need more of that." Said an enthused audience member after the show.
'So That Happened' is a talk show at ImprovBoston in Central Square on Saturdays at 7pm.
City Council Candidate, Luis Vasquez, stopped by CCTV last night to speak about his campaign for the upcoming municipal election. Host Alan Verley, a lifelong Cambridge resident, conducted the interview. "When I met you last week at the Haddis Girma Foundation Field Day, I was immediately excited about your candidacy." Explained Verley. "As a young person myself, I appreciate that you're willing to step up and do this."
Vasquez noted that win or lose on the ballot, the experience of running will make the campaign victorious, "I'm not running to make a statement. I'm running with a message. That's to engage all registered voters to vote locally as well, especially our young people. I'm a candidate that a young person can connect with and relate to on a personal level. I'm excited for what my candidacy represents, because it will inspire other young people to continue what I've started and to not be afraid of being heard. That's a win."
Host Alan Verley asked Vasquez for his take on homelessness in Central Square. "We can't mask the issue by up-scaling Central Square. I'm all for revitalizing the Square, as long as we don't take away from the culture and the integrity of it. By adding more expensive establishments we are shooing homelessness away. Let's do more to help them up to their feet and to give them proper job training and other opportunities to grow."
One live caller requested that should Vasquez get elected to the City Council in November, that he would appear on the show once a month to keep the community updated on his work. Vasquez agreed and shook on it with the host.
Verley concluded the interview by asking Vasquez if he has heard from current City Councilors. "Not very many." Admitted Vasquez. "I'm surprised by it. When a young person from the community is running, they should be proud and supportive of it. I was that youth that they worked hard for. They do great work for our City, they're very busy people."
Vasquez went on to say, "In a perfect world, the City Council would reflect the characteristics and the diversity of the community that we live in."
July 7, 2013 - Luis Vasquez Officially Launches Campaign for City Council
Over 115 supporters gathered this past Sunday night at the Midwest Grill on Cambridge Street to officially launch Luis Vasquez' campaign bid for a seat on the Cambridge City Council.
"I want to represent possibilities," remarked Vasquez. "I want us to take this City by storm and create a Cambridge that is welcome to everyone, just like it used to. Why stop at affordable housing? Let's take it a step further and fight for affordable living as a whole."
While complimenting the work of the School Committee and the City Council to bringing innovation to our schools, Vasquez suggested that the leaders of technology in Kendall Square take their involvement a step further, "We are just a few blocks away from the mecca of intelligence in Kendall Square. Let's continue to build on those relationships and remind those big companies to not just be IN our community, but to be a part of it. Let's match them up with every student in our schools."
Vasquez emphasized the importance of civic engagement, "My name may be on those stickers, but this is a together thing. We are gathered here today because we love our community. Let's make sure that nobody gets left behind on November 5th. I challenge you to find five people that are not registered to vote and you talk to them about why they should. I challenge you to find the voters that only vote every four years for the president and you tell them why they should vote this November, as I will be. Whether you vote for me or not, just make sure you show up at the polls. At the end of the day, if we can work through these challenges together, Cambridge wins."
Vasquez cited his personal experiences of overcoming homelessness as a child, and becoming a teen parent as the source of his passion for running. Also adding that the perspective of a youthful and native Cantabrigian will bring a much needed new energy to the Council, along with inspiration to youth in our City.
The event was capped off by Luis' wife, Dariana Vasquez, signing the final slot of the maximum 100 certified signatures needed to put her husband on the ballot. Supporters were treated to brazilian food, cake, cash bar, promotional material, and live music by R&B artist (and Cambridge native) Mike Wyche. "It's time to usher in a new era of elected officials." Pointed out Hector Acevedo, the Campaign Manager for Vasquez, and a 2004 Cambridge Rindge and Latin Graduate.
CCTV candidate video (2013)
|Page last updated Sunday, October 6, 2013 12:28 PM||Cambridge Candidates|