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Quinton Zondervan is a new candidate this year.
Introduction: Hello, my name is Quinton Zondervan and I am a longtime Cambridge resident and first time candidate for city council. As an immigrant and person of color, I am very concerned about the direction our country is headed in. My campaign is focused on rebuilding our democracy from the ground up, starting right here in Cambridge. My deep commitment to our city and the people who call it home has shown in everything I have done, and in a crowded field I stand out as the most experienced non-incumbent when it comes to working with the community, council, and administration on municipal policy, and the most prepared to be an effective councillor from day one. That’s why I’ve been endorsed by three incumbents- Nadeem Mazen, Jan Devereux, and Dennis Carlone, as well as State Representative Mike Connolly. I will never accept contributions from real estate developers or other special interests with business before the council, which is why I am counting on you to vote me #1 on November 7 so that we can elect a councillor who represents the people of Cambridge. Please visit www.votequinton.com or like my page on Facebook to learn more about my candidacy.
My Story: I grew up in Suriname, a small country in South America that was taken over by a military dictator when I was ten years old. I witnessed the destruction of the press and the killing of prominent citizens. One day, I was out in the forest cutting bamboo to make a kite when a soldier came up to me, pointed a gun to my belly, and asked me if I wanted to die. Soon after, my dad sent me ahead to the United States, where as a teenager I spent a few months living in the small forward cabin of my grandfather’s boat, which I shared with my uncle and his family. When my family finally joined me, my dad’s work permit fell through, and I had to help out with odd jobs after school so we could make ends meet. I taught myself to speak American English, did well in school, and eventually realized my dream of attending MIT. My wife and I bought a home in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood in 2004. We are raising two children who went to King Open/CSUS and currently attend CRLS. As a result of my life experiences, I deeply cherish the democracy and freedom we have here in America. I’m deepening my commitment to those values by running for city council, and I hope you will give me your #1 vote on November 7.
Trusted Civic Advisor: I have served on the city’s Climate Protection Action Committee (CPAC) as well as the Rodent Task Force for nine years each. These groups advise the city manager on how to best deal with the issues of climate change and rodent proliferation, respectively. I served as chair of CPAC for 3 years and my advocacy on the committee led to the city’s climate vulnerability study, which was finally completed this year. As Committee Chair, I led the group in establishing 2020 climate goals for the city, which now guide the city’s activities in areas such as renewable energy procurement.
Experienced Community Activist: I took on the leadership of Green Cambridge in 2011 and have been president of the board for the past six years.The organization’s solar discount program has been directly responsible for 25% of the solar installations in Cambridge and surrounding communities over the last four years. We also have helped install hundreds of rain barrels in our community, which help people save water to be used for gardening and trees. I still install many of the rain barrells myself!
In 2013, I co-authored the net zero zoning petition along with State Representative Mike Connolly. The resulting action plan is one of the most comprehensive building emission reductions plans in the entire country, and now I am regularly speaking in other cities and towns across the state to help them adopt similar policies of their own. Earlier this year, the council adopted my proposed policy order (introduced by councillor Devereux) calling for 100% renewable energy citywide by 2035. The plans are in place, and now we need to elect someone like me to make sure they happen as quickly as possible.
Conscientious Business Leader: Professionally, I have had a fulfilling career as a software engineer and tech entrepreneur. I am currently an advisor at eCare Vault, Inc., a healthcare IT startup working to make it easier for parents of children with special needs to securely share information (I resigned as CTO of eCare Vault, Inc. this summer to focus on my campaign for city council.) In 2013 I co-founded the Climate Action Business Association (CABA), a nonprofit that works with small businesses to combat climate change at the state level. In 2015, I represented CABA and the American Sustainable Business Association as an official observer at the Paris Climate negotiations which led to the historic Paris Agreement. In 2016, CABA won a Greenovate award from the city of Boston. From its inception, CABA has been a strong advocate for pricing carbon, becoming a recognized leader on the topic at the Massachusetts State House.
Prepare for Climate Change: I have been advocating for climate adaptation since 2008. The results of the climate vulnerability study are clear, but our community is not moving fast enough to prepare for the changes that are already happening. Buildings are being constructed in the Alewife floodplain, where future tenants will be exposed to serious flooding risks. Public housing tenants and seniors continue to go without air conditioning even as the risk of heat waves rises. And most of us barely know our neighbors, making us even more vulnerable. We still have a lot of work to do to build a more resilient community in the face of climate change. As a long-time climate activist, I’m well prepared to represent those concerns on the city council.
Implement the Net Zero Action Plan: In Cambridge, 80% of our climate destroying emissions come from building energy use. To reduce these emissions to zero, we created the Net Zero Action Plan in 2015. According to the plan, new municipal buildings will be net zero by 2020. Thankfully, the city has already begun to strive for net zero with the King School on Putnam Ave. and will likely achieve it with the King Open School currently being constructed on Cambridge Street. Any new construction undertaken by the city should strive for net zero.
Establish a Carbon Fund: Establishing a carbon fund is one way to reduce emissions from existing buildings in the city. Large property owners and big developers would pay into the fund to offset their emissions, and the money raised would be used to reduce energy consumption and improve comfort in public and low-income housing around the city. As a part of the Net Zero Action Plan, Harvard and MIT agreed to study the feasibility of this idea, but no real progress has been made. It is time for our university partners to act on their promise! Having built strong working relationships with both Harvard and MIT (where I’m an alum), I’m well-positioned to make this happen.
Community Solar for All: Community solar is one way to bring the benefits of solar technology to the 80% of residents who cannot put solar on their roof for various reasons, including the many renters in Cambridge. Our municipal electricity consumption from things like streetlights and school buildings is considerable. That buying power can help finance community solar projects, which would, in turn, reduce our municipal costs by at least 10%. Offsetting our city’s electricity consumption with renewable energy from community solar projects would allow our community to actively participate in reducing our city’s total emissions. As the benefits director of Potluck Energy I helped bring the first community solar installation on a commercial building to Davis Square this year, providing 100% solar generated electricity to renters, at a discount.
Restore the Natural Ecology of the Concrete Jungle: Nature is our greatest ally in restoring a safe climate. Trees reduce atmospheric carbon by absorbing carbon dioxide (the primary driver of climate change) from the air through photosynthesis. The urban tree canopy also reduces the “urban heat island” effect by cooling the city. Through better stormwater management we can reduce fertilizer and pollutant runoff into the Charles and Mystic rivers, which drain into Boston Harbor where seagrass, a major carbon absorber, is dying from our current practices. Replacing pavement with green space and expanding our tree canopy are some of the strategies that need to be prioritized by our city government if they are to happen fast enough to make a difference.
Urban Agriculture: Urban agriculture is an important way to increase biodiversity in our city, and counteract climate change at the local level. Monoculture lawns and impermeable pavement can be turned into productive gardens and food forests. People can obtain healthy, nutritious foods at a reasonable cost, or even for free when they are in need. Children can learn about nature and farming in their neighborhood and community. And fewer resources will be wasted hauling raw materials in and transporting waste out of the city. We can make this vision a reality if we prioritize urban agriculture as a way to green our city and build our community. At Green Cambridge we created a community urban farm producing fresh fruits and vegetables in East Cambridge. The produce is available to any community members who want to participate in the farm, and some of it also is being donated to local school children in partnership with City Sprouts.
HOUSING & AFFORDABILITY:
Reduce Market Speculation: Real estate speculation is a huge problem in Cambridge and a major cause of the affordability crisis. We cannot continue to let international investors decide our fate. When people who have no intention of living here buy up properties and rent them out at steep rates or let them sit vacant, we all suffer the consequences of rising rents. And as long as they think somebody else will pay them a higher price later, they have no incentive to stop. If we tax foreign investors and they pay the tax in order to build, we gain revenues for the city that we can use to build or buy 100% affordable housing to protect our residents from displacement. If some foreign investors are unwilling to pay the tax , those housing units are available on the market for actual residents to buy and live in.
Increase Middle Income and Family Housing: Earlier this year, Cambridge celebrated a major victory: the inclusionary zoning requirement for developments of 10+ units was increased from 12% to 20%. While this is great progress, it does not reduce displacement for middle income households. We should add an additional 5% inclusionary zoning requirement for middle income households and families, including 2 and 3 bedroom units. Without active protection, middle income households will continue to decline in Cambridge, leading to growing economic inequality and a loss of diversity in our city.
Increase Commercial Development Linkage Fees: In 2015, the city raised linkage fees from $4.58 to $12 per square foot of new development (escalating to $15 per square foot by September 2018). This update was long overdue and sorely needed. However, the Nexus study and feasibility assessment that was done at the time actually found that the city could go as high as $24.30 per square foot. Accordingly, Cambridge should set the linkage fees on an escalating schedule to eventually reach $24.30 per square foot, which would generate millions in additional funding for affordable housing in Cambridge.
Make Vail Court a Model in Smart Development: Vail Court is an abandoned property in Central Square which was taken by eminent domain last fall. This is a unique and tremendous opportunity for the city to build 100% affordable housing just steps away from the T and everything else that Central Sq. has to offer. By eliminating surface parking on the site, we could incorporate significant green space in the design. By building net zero emissions, in accordance with the city’s commitment under the Net Zero Action Plan to reduce climate change causing emissions from municipal buildings to zero, we can lead by example and increase the comfort of residents while reducing their utility costs. Last, but not least, we have an opportunity to provide shelter for international refugees. In this particular case we can truly have it all. Because we are committed to addressing the affordable housing crisis in Cambridge, we must make the most of this rare opportunity.
SAFER and SUSTAINABLE TRANSIT:
Protected Bike Lanes Everywhere: I’ve been a bicycle commuter in Cambridge since 1992 when I came here to study at MIT, and I fully endorse the Cambridge Bicycle Safety platform. One of my top priorities as a councillor would be to adopt a comprehensive plan for the implementation of a network of protected bicycle lanes within Cambridge as part of the growing regional network which connects us to cities like Somerville and Boston. Two people have died on our streets in the last two years, and car crashes in Cambridge stopped their significant decline around 2008 (right around the time the iPhone came out). We need to implement Vision Zero. I also intend to make sure we complete the Grand Junction pathway and maximize other opportunities to create similar bicycle paths. As vehicle ownership continues to decline, more and more road and parking space will become available for alternative uses. We need to be cognizant of the tradeoffs being made on our roads, and ensure excellent public process and world-class street design. We don’t want to end up with unhappy surprises like UPS trucks in the protected bike lane or insufficient parking for seniors and the disabled. That may mean reintroducing a traffic board or similar body for review of traffic pattern changes by community representatives to ensure we maximize safety and minimize inconvenience.
Expand Public Transit: The development in Kendall Sq. and Alewife is bringing in many more potential T riders, but the MBTA has not taken sufficient steps to increase the capacity required to service these new riders. We need to explore further augmenting the MBTA bus service with shuttle buses that are free for residents. Corporate shuttles in Kendall and Harvard help employees get to and from their place of work, and residents desperately need similarly convenient service if they are to leave their cars behind.
Cambridge has a powerful voice in advocating for better service from the T and we should work with state leaders to ensure the MBTA is properly funded and not privatized at the expense of workers.
Add More Publicly Accessible Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Affordable electric vehicles with practical battery ranges are poised to take over and finally become the dominant form of car transportation in the future. This will allow us to massively reduce harmful pollution and climate change causing emissions from vehicular transport. EV technology will become available for trucks, buses and delivery vehicles to go electric as well. However, this can only happen with a network of accessible EV charging stations throughout the city, as many home owners, renters and business owners don’t have the space, permission or electrical capacity to install EV chargers on their own property. Currently the city has a handful of EV charging stations that are accessible to the public, but we need to install many more. There is no significant cost associated with doing so, since the city simply has to lease the space to a private company that installs and maintains the charging stations. It could even be a revenue opportunity for the city. Charging stations could be installed at on-street parking spots as is already the case on Cambridge St. in Boston, and is common in European cities. Accordingly, administration should make it city-wide policy to replace municipal vehicles with electric models as part of routine replacement.
Common Sense Rules for Rideshare: The convenience of ridesharing apps has taken the world by storm and significantly disrupted the taxi industry. These new companies have fundamentally altered how people travel around the city, but our road design has not kept up. We need many more safe dropoff and pickup locations throughout the city, and prohibitions against stopping in bike/car lanes should be strictly enforced. Additionally, we need to make sure that ridesharing companies are following state labor laws and that drivers are treated with dignity and respect as every worker should be. Just as we did with Air BnB (PDF), Cambridge needs to implement some common sense rules that allow us to benefit from the convenience of technological innovation while protecting the safety and economic justice of all residents.
Increase Funding for VMT Reduction: In Cambridge, money raised from parking permit fees is put entirely towards VMT (vehicle miles travelled) reduction. Street parking is a privilege which is severely undervalued in our city, as it costs more to park in a garage for 24 hours than it does to park on the street for an entire year. Permit fees were recently raised from $8 to $25 per year as a direct result of my advocacy, which has generated an additional $400,000 in annual revenue for the city. It is important to continue raising the fee because the number of parking permits issued has stagnated despite a steady population increase, echoing a national trend of declining vehicle ownership. I propose that we raise the annual parking permit fee on an escalating schedule, with exemptions for low income residents in addition to the exemption already in place for seniors. By doing this, we will raise millions of dollars for bicycle infrastructure, parking demand management, public transit improvements, and other VMT reduction efforts. Current legislation already permits deliberate overpayment by wealthier residents wishing to contribute more than the minimum towards our VMT reduction efforts, and this should be actively encouraged.
City Council candidate Quinton Zondervan announces launch party on May 21 at Plug Cambridge
City Council candidate Quinton Zondervan will hold his launch party on May 21 from 6-8pm at Plug Cambridge, 618 Cambridge Street in East Cambridge.
“I know that we can solve even the most serious challenges in our city - and given the lack of competent national leadership at the moment, we’ll need to do it ourselves at the local level” says Zondervan, a long-time climate activist in the city who has founded two nonprofits and led several successful policy initiatives, including the city’s pioneering net zero action plan. “I believe in innovative policy, bold action, and always protecting the most vulnerable”.
All are welcome to join and learn more about his campaign for city council. This event is free and open to the public.
Business leader and environmental advocate Quinton Zondervan announces candidacy for Cambridge City Council
"I've been a community activist in Cambridge for over a decade and thoroughly enjoy the hard work of on the ground democracy, organizing people and building a future together," said Zondervan. "I very much look forward to doing even more as city councillor."
Out of the gate, Quinton has the support of three of the most progressive incumbents on the council, Nadeem Mazen, Jan Devereux and Dennis Carlone. "Quinton's track record as an effective and forward-thinking advocate on environmental initiatives is impressive, and I think his expertise and positive outlook would be an asset to us on the Council," Devereux said.
Quinton is known for co-authoring the Net Zero Connolly petition in 2013, which led to the city's innovative Net Zero Action Plan to reduce climate causing greenhouse emissions from building energy use to 0 in the city over the next 25 years. Petition namesake and now State Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge), said: "Quinton's leadership and expertise were critical to our success with the net zero petition, and he would be a great addition to the council, where his voice is much needed on sustainability, social justice and affordability in Cambridge."
To protect the integrity of his candidacy, Quinton will not accept money from real estate developers or other special interests seeking to influence the council election. "Cambridge voters deserve to know that their interests are being represented on the city council. The money we raise to run our campaign is not to be used as a vehicle for gaining undue influence over decisions I will make as city councillor," he said.
An official campaign launch event is planned for later in the spring. The campaign website is www.votequinton.com.
CCTV candidate video (2017)
|Page last updated Saturday, October 28, 2017 8:11 PM||Cambridge Candidates|