James Williamson, photo by Marcus Halevi

James Williamson
will not be a 2017 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
1000 Jackson Place
Cambridge, MA 02140

Contact information:
e-mail: tompaine@hotmail.com

1. Raise the Minimum Wage in Cambridge to at least $10.50/hour. The current so-called "living wage" is already at least $14.75/hour. (Starting with ABP, CVS and DD!)

2. Stop the encroachment of giant bio-labs and unnecessary, over-sized buildings into Central Square. Zoning for people and neighborhoods, not corporate real estate profiteers!

3. Protect, preserve and expand affordable housing for residents, including those making up to 120% of Area Median Income (AMI). Insist MIT house 100 percent of their 6200 graduate students (currently its only 38 percent). Harvard, do the same!

4. Make sidewalks and crosswalks (and "shared" paths!) safe for pedestrians, especially seniors; greatly improve public transportation!

Content from 2013 and 2015 Candidate Page

Dear Esteemed Cambridge Voter:

I hope you'll consider giving me your #1 vote on Tuesday.

There's a lot of information out there -- for those willing to make the effort -- and I hope you're among those who will.

I run for City Council out of frustration with the lack of attention to the many important issues I care about here in Cambridge, as well as in distress and disappointment with a lack of political will and imagination when it comes to bargaining with the two big institutions in our town, MIT and Harvard, and the large commercial real estate companies and their allies, who cannot -- nor should they -- be trusted to just "spontaneously" do what is best for our city.

Their money has too much influence in the politics of the city and community, and we need to work to change that.

I've chosen not to raise or spend money in this year's campaign, so please have a look at my CCTV 'Candidate Video' (there's a link at the lower right-hand side of this page) where I explain why in more detail. [Or, better yet, view all of them here: www.cctvcambridge.org/candidates]

For the sake of simplicity, I provide you here with a brief synopsis of some of the issues most important too me in this election, taken from a handbill I've produced -- free, at the Public Library -- that's a distillation of my key points.

I believe I'd make a great City Councillor and, should you decide to give me your #1 vote, be sure to vote for others you feel you can support, too.

It's likely -- if you do this -- that your ballot will count more than once; once for me, and then again for whoever you may think best among those candidates who are -- realistically speaking -- seen to be more "competitive;" albeit because, for too many of them, they are taking money from major real estate interests and their various "allies" in Cambridge.

Please think about this.

You might consider Gary Mello #2 (who I like very much; honest and independent, though we do disagree on a few things, too), then Dennis Carlone #3, followed perhaps by Minka vanBeuzekom #4, the one incumbent who -- though not perfect -- has done a decent job on some important issues in Cambridge, such as resisting the excessive giveaway of 1,000,000 sq.ft. of "development rights" to MIT, without insisting they first house a much higher percentage of their 6200 graduate students in affordable and attractive housing on or near campus, which would free up hundreds of market rate units for families in Cambridge.

Thanks for you attention and consideration.

Sincerely, James M. Williamson


Here's a little introductory biographical statement:
I have lived in Cambridge for over 40 years and I have come to know the city well. However, I happily acknowledge those who grew up here or went to school here and know the city even better. I value your experience and perspectives, and your loyalty to Cambridge, even as we are all trying to come to terms with a city which has changed and continues to change dramatically. I have always been actively involved in the civic life of this community since I first settled here permanently in the fall of 1971; the year of Attica, and of Vietnam.

I always supported (and, indeed, benefited from) rent control in Cambridge, and feel its defeat in the 90s, orchestrated by organized real estate interests, changed our city for the worse. One of our biggest challenges ever since has been to assure truly affordable housing for those who currently live in Cambridge, while accommodating the inevitable growth associated with at least some of those who may wish to settle here. The drivers of growth have always been the universities and commercial real estate development.

While homeowners, and city coffers, have benefited financially, the shape of the city has lead me to join others through the years in fighting to protect those things in jeopardy which we have valued most: The Tasty; a livable, affordable Central Square; neighborhoods with a sense of community, protected from being overwhelmed by giant buildings, excessive traffic congestion, or too much turbulence in the social life of the city — when the only principles allowed to govern are "market forces," or the almighty dollar.

I lived briefly in Central and Harvard squares; then, for over 30 years, in Cambridgeport. In 2007, I was evicted as a result of a mortgage foreclosure. I was fortunate to qualify for affordable, public housing. I moved to North Cambridge, where I have been happy to find community in tough times.

In a time of growing inequality, how can we make Cambridge an equitable and beautiful place to live for as many who can fairly and sensibly make a life here? How can we have Harvard and MIT and still have so many kids failing in our schools or working for minimum wage in Harvard Square? Is Biotech the answer? Or do we need to find ways to reconnect, and rebuild just and truly sustainable communities? The answer should be obvious.

Candidate's 2013 responses     Candidate's 2011 Responses    Candidate's 2009 Responses

CCTV candidate video (2015)

Page last updated Thursday, August 10, 2017 10:18 AM Cambridge Candidates