2023 Candidate for Cambridge City Council
1. Experience with Cambridge nonprofits. Do you have work or volunteer experience with Cambridge nonprofits?
Yes. I used to be a board member of the Cambridge School Volunteers. I am also familiar with Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services and De Novo because I am a legal aid attorney by background. I also became more familiar with many of our nonprofits through the Department of Human Services Commission when I served as Commissioner and we made recommendations around CDGB grants. In my last almost six years of elected office, I have also worked closely with many nonprofits in our community through the winter gift card drive, and Cambridge RISE, and RISE Up Cambridge.
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. Nonprofit expertise is critical in how we shape our current city priorities-as we rolled out the expansion for our guaranteed income in Cambridge, we looked to nonprofits to help shape our work. They are also important partners in so much of what we do as a city.
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?
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. I think we can help nonprofits with recruiting strategy--we can help them by providing more funding to allow them to offer retention bonuses and other strategies. ARPA will help some but there is untapped resource potential.
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. We should have had more support in rolling out ARPA grants to nonprofits. I wish we had had hired individuals specifically working on ARPA grant implementation.