What an Amazing Kickoff
I'm so blown away by the support I received this past Monday. Over 80 people crowded into 730 Tavern to join me to officially launch my campaign for Cambridge City Council, and heard speeches from State Rep Mike Connolly, Cambridge Resident & former city council candidate Vatsady Sivongxay, and Cambridge Activists Beth Huang, Itamar Turner-Trauring, and Louise Parker.
I said during my speech that I couldn't do this on my own, that this campaign isn't about one person, it's about all of us working together to fight for the values we believe in like Housing Justice and a Cambridge Green New Deal.
Some of the policies I talked about pushing for include:
- Making buses and subways free for all Cambridge residents
- Providing child-care at all City Council meetings
- A Cambridge Promise to fund public high school students attending public college and trade school debt-free
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I'm so energized by how many of you joined me for the kickoff. We really have the power to do this. I was so honored by the speeches various people gave and I wanted to highlight some portions of the evening and share some photos:
Pictures from the event are at the bottom
Video of the speeches is here
Highlights from Speeches:
Thank you again to all of the folks who spoke at my event. Highlights included:
Beth Huang, a Cambridge resident and organizer with Boston DSA, spoke about why she is excited about my campaign, saying:
"We need a bold leader who comes from our social movements, who will be accountable to them, who has a vision for governing with progressive social movements and that is my friend and comrade, Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler... We need a candidate who rejects money from fossil fuel companies, corporate PACs and real estate developers."
Vatsady Sivongxay, Cambridge resident & community advocate who ran for city council in 2017:
"When we bring people power into politics, it is sustainable. Our community begins to accumulate wealth together, and people aren't displaced no matter how hard they work.... I think that Jivan has worked extremely hard throughout his entire life. If you know where he has come from, his family has worked to help him come to where he is today. To be able to coordinate policies and work on issues that affect all of us, whether it's healthcare, development, or people's ability to be part of the decision making process. I am really honored to be here today to support Jivan."
Itamar Turner-Trauring, a leader within Cambridge Bicycle Safety, a group that fights for better bike infrastructure in the city, shared his support for my candidacy, saying:
"I'm personally extremely excited about Jivan's run and his broader vision for biking infrastructure and public transportation in Cambridge...Biking Safety is at the intersection of public health, transportation justice and environmental justice... but our infrastructure prioritizes cars, not people... If my wife or I are injured, we're lucky enough that we can pay the medical bills and avoid losing work, but for many people even a broken arm can be catastrophic. They can't afford to lose the work they can't afford physical therapy. So people make the rational choice to own a car even if they can't afford it... Owning a car can be a tax for being poor. This is why both better public transportation and bicycle infrastructure matter, it's not just about the people who are biking now, but the people who would be biking if they could if we had safer streets and that's why I think we all should be supporting Jivan's candidacy."
Louise Parker, healthcare activist and member of Our Revolution Cambridge, blew me away with her support:
"Jivan is someone who will stand for us. He will stand for the people of Cambridge. He is not to be bought by the corporations and tech companies... He will stand for all kinds of people: those who have children, those who don't, those who are elderly. He will stand to make this city affordable again. He will stand to fight for rent control. He will stand to keep Cambridge diverse and it's exactly what we need. He is an incredible person... I can't think of anyone who cares more about making this world a better place... And Cambridge would be so fortunate to have someone like him on City Council. So Jivan is getting my #1 Vote and I urge you all to do the same. I think he is the kind of step forward we need to make this city what it really can be."
Mike Connolly, State Representative for East Cambridge & Somerville also spoke, and I was so honored for his support. Some highlights from Mike's speech were:
"You can elect people who will put our community first, not real estate profits or corporate interests and that's why I'm here because we know that's who Jivan will be in office."
"We're going to need city councilors who bring the kind of vision, perspective, and values that Jivan is bringing to this race, in the future of the city council as we look to do big things. We're not just talking about a few affordable housing units, we want to build hundreds of affordable housing units to really make Cambridge a place that is open and welcoming to everyone. So that's why I'm here. I'm really psyched that Jivan stepped up to run this race and I'm psyched to see all you. I think it bodes really well for us to win this campaign."
Video is posted here, but a few highlights from my speech, that people might find interesting:
1. My background:
I lived in a couple different places growing up. One of them was not too far from here in Springfield, MA where my parents were working at the time. When they got divorced, I was still a toddler, and my mom wasn’t making very much money, so we moved into subsidized housing. For quite a few years after that, she worked whatever job she could get that would work with the daycare’s schedule—telemarketing, administrative jobs, working with migrant families. And during this time, I was on CHIP, the children’s version of Medicaid for health insurance.
Today, my mom is a professor of political science at a public university. And I work at a nationally recognized land-policy think tank based in Cambridge. But there’s a chance that neither of those things would have been possible if we hadn’t had access to those social programs, those public commitments like CHIP and subsidized housing.
I was on CHIP as a kid, but my mom went years without health insurance or being able to go to the doctor. I have no idea what we would have done if she’d gotten sick or been in accident during this period. Or what we would have done if we’d moved into the wrong apartment—one where the heat went out in the winter or one that had toxic mold, like the ones nearby where I’ve helped support tenants unions at with Boston DSA and City Life Vida Urbana.
2. On Housing policy:
We have to start by recognizing that it’s insane how many renters are paying 40 or 50 or 60% of their income just to keep a roof over their heads and how little control they have over their housing. That’s why we need tenant protections like Just Cause Eviction and that’s why we need a policy we should already have: we need rent control.
Because what’s the current cap on rent increases for an elderly person or a person with a disability in market rate housing? What’s the max rent increase you can currently give to any of us? There is no cap, there is no max. And It fuels the displacement that is destroying our communities. And we’re going to change that.
3. On Transit policy:
We have to also recognize, as the Sunrise Movement does, that the people who are going to be most affected by climate change are the same people who our economy is failing. And because of that, our solution has to respond to both the changing climate, economic inequality, and racial equity. That’s why I’m calling for a Cambridge Green New Deal that includes making buses and subways free for all Cambridge residents.
If we’re serious about equity we have to recognize that our working and middle-class residents are disproportionately likely to depend on public transit to get to work and doctors appointments and to live their lives. I believe buses and subways across the whole MBTA system and across the country should be free. But if the MBTA isn’t going to act with the urgency that the crises of climate change and economic inequality demand, let’s stand up and show the Boston region, and the world, that Cambridge will.
4. On other opportunities to make the city more equitable:
And public transit isn’t the only area we have to fix to improve equity in our city. That’s why we’re going to push for municipal broadband, because in 2019 the internet is a necessity to participate in work and school and society and Comcast shouldn’t be controlling our access to it. And that’s why we’re going to start having child-care at every city council meeting. Because right now having a kid means you often have to cut back on trying improve the city they’ll grow up in. And that’s also why we’re going to push for a Cambridge Promise for high school students, because no one who graduates from public high school and public college should graduate with thousands of dollars in student debt.
5. On the smaller stuff:
And we’ve got to push not just for the big ideas, but for the smaller ones like city sidewalk snow removal. Right now, Cambridge takes responsibility for clearing the streets when it snows, but it leaves the sidewalks to property owners who sometimes aren’t great at clearing it. I don’t think we should have two snow removal systems: one for drivers and another for pedestrians. That’s why we need sidewalk socialism.
Pictures from the event:
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