1. Experience with Cambridge nonprofits. Do you have work or volunteer experience with Cambridge nonprofits?
No. I do not have any volunteer experience with Cambridge nonprofits to speak of, other than work at an East End House event some years ago. However, I was an instructor of ESL at MCI-Concord in my 20s, and I worked at the State Students Association of Massachusetts while at college (an organization that worked towards forwarding the needs of the students of our state colleges and universities.) I sat on the Governor's Task Force for Higher Education during the Dukakis Administration.
2. Valuing nonprofit expertise. Cambridge nonprofits deliver programs and services across a wide range of missions, from early education and youth development, to affordable housing production and management, arts and culture exposure and education, food security, environmental preservation, civic engagement (or community involvement), and much more. As a result, nonprofit leaders and staff are often well positioned to advise the City on program policies related to their clients and consumers. Will you use your position on the City Council to ensure that the City incorporates the voice and expertise of nonprofit leaders into planning around current City priorities?
Yes. I hope to amplify the voices of our lower and middle income residents who are vulnerable to displacement. Our arts community is especially important to me, as I am a father to a working musician who can no longer afford to live in the area. As a renter and lower income resident myself, I believe our nonprofit community is essential to the task of confronting the housing crisis many of our residents are facing. While I am learning what I can to be part of the solution, I know that I will lean heavily on the expertise of our non profit builders to prevent further displacement of members of our community. You can see specifically what I hope to accomplish regarding housing on my website. I also believe we must do all we can to allow all of our residents to enjoy the prosperity that has come to some of us, but has left out too many. Universal PreK will help level the playing field for children who come from various economic backgrounds as they begin their public education. Afterschool helps our young people develop positive social skills. We invest so much in educating our children, we must do all we can to ensure they have opportunities and support once they leave our schools.
3. Limiting application of Anti-Aid Amendment. With the exception of contracts for services, the Anti-Aid Amendment of the MA Constitution prohibits municipalities from directly distributing funds raised through taxation to nonprofits. While the City provides financial support to nonprofits through contracting, this approach increased administrative burdens, can cause cash-flow issues due to payment delays, and limits creativity in developing new funding opportunities. It also can create an incentive for the City to start new initiatives rather than invest in programs already well established in the community. Will you use your position on the City Council to limit the application of the Anti-Aid Amendment to tax generated revenue only, in order to maximize the resources available to Cambridge nonprofits?
Yes. As the Anti-Aid amendment is a state law, it is beyond the ability of the council to limit it, but we can do a better job of understanding its application. I hope to work with our new City Manager and new City Solicitor so that we can ask for assistance and guidance from the state level on applications and limitations. With new leadership, I hope to get some clarity from the state on how Cambridge can spend its money supporting critically needed work of our nonprofits. I know that there is a PO for a meeting with the city manager and solicitor along with a representative from MA Dept of Revenue. But this meeting has not yet occurred. It is imperative that meeting happens so that we can understand how we can maximize resources to our essential nonprofits. If elected I will prioritize ensuring that meeting happens soon.
4. Attending to nonprofit workforce challenges. According to CNC's December 2022 survey of Cambridge nonprofits, (70%) reported open positions and over a third (36%) said they lacked the funding to fill them, comprising their ability to meet service demands. Do you believe the City Council can play a role in helping nonprofits recruit and retain high quality staff?
Yes. The struggle of attracting and retaining high quality staff is impacting a lot of sectors in Cambridge and the region. Our innovation industries have created 45,000 new jobs (and continue to create them) over the last 30 years. But our housing stock has not kept pace. This has created pressure on our housing market that make it difficult to rent or own in and around Cambridge for lower and middle income workers. We cannot recruit or retain staff without adequate affordable housing. We should be factoring in workforce housing when we make decisions. The inclusionary program is great but if you make less than 50% of the AMI you don't qualify. Many employees at child care organizations, home nursing agencies and other critical nonprofits do not earn that. Neither do school workers who are not teachers (or even bartenders or baristas, who may not work at nonprofits but are still essential to our city). All the people who work to make Cambridge a wonderful, livable city should be able to live here too. As the only service worker running for City Council, I know these struggles firsthand. Those workers are my friends and family. I will work to ensure we have a meaningful conversation about housing. It is personal for me.
5. ARPA investments in nonprofits. While Cambridge nonprofits are grateful for the City committing millions of ARPA dollars to local organizations, concerns have been raised both about the slow pace of releasing funds into the community and a lack of information being shared broadly regarding their progress. Will you use your position on the City Council to expedite this process and ensure there is greater transparency going forward?
Yes. Covid had a profound impact on all of our lives, and many of us faced unprecedented challenges due to it. I work in restaurants who were one of the many industries upended by the pandemic and our response to it. While funds were made available to the workers and owners of restaurants, there were many issues in the dispersal of funds. I was disappointed that the Restaurant Relief Fund ended up promising much more than it delivered and it was equally troubling to try to find out how the funds were allocated. ARPA has given Cambridge an opportunity to alleviate some of the burdens caused by Covid, but it is vitally important that we have transparency in this matter. The Cambridge Non-Profit Coalition is key to helping the city allocate some of those funds in the best manner. Having learned from the mistakes of the RRF, I will work to ensure these are not repeated with the ARPA money. Transparency is critical, and those funds must be made available as quickly possible. I have seen the results when this did not occur in the dispersal of the RRF.