1.The City of Cambridge received $65M+ in fiscal recovery funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. Although the Treasury Department provided some guidelines, the City has significant discretion in how to use the funding. If elected, what will you do to ensure that the residents most harmed by the pandemic, and the nonprofit organizations that work to support and empower them, will be prioritized to receive these funds and be an authentic part of the decision making process?
Our campaign is focused on spotlighting problems of the everyday people in Cambridge. If elected, I will work towards improving housing stability and food security, increasing investment in youth and young adult investment, and working to make sure that policies aimed at improving global warming are implemented equally across all neighborhoods in Cambridge. These issues were around before COVID-19 and have only been made worse because of it. I believe the fiscal recovery funds from the American Rescue Plan Act should be used for exactly these purposes.
2. The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies recently reported that nationally nonprofits lost 1.6M jobs between March-May 2020. What policies would you advocate for to hasten the recovery of Cambridge nonprofits and increase their capacity to serve Cambridge?
Partnership with non-profits is key to the success of my campaign platforms. American Rescue Plan Act funds should be directly distributed to nonprofit corporations who are doing the noble work of helping our community members who require assistance due to damages caused by the pandemic shutdown.
3. The Anti-Aid Amendment of the Massachusetts State Constitution prohibits municipalities from directly distributing funds raised through taxation to nonprofits, with the exception of contracts for specific goods or services. This creates many challenges including but not limited to: use of cost reimbursement contracts, that can increase the administrative burden and in some cases cause cash-flow issues for organizations, limiting the amount of funds available to support individual organizations, constraining creativity in funding models, and creating an incentive for the City of Cambridge to implement its own programs rather than more significantly investing in nonprofits already running well established programs in the community. Although the City of Cambridge does not have the authority to abolish the Anti-Aid Amendment, it has some discretion in how broadly to apply it. If elected, what would you do to limit the negative impacts of the anti-aid amendment in order to maximize the resources that Cambridge nonprofits represent?
If elected, I will conduct research to better understand and benchmark what other communities in MA are doing with respect to partnering with non-profits. In addition, I would work towards building sources of revenue other than tax revenue. For example, technology companies in Kendall Square and their employees could be great sources for individual and corporate donations and could spearhead volunteer efforts.
4. The recent Cambridge Community Foundation Equity and Innovation Cities report paints a stark picture of a Cambridge that has experienced both significant prosperity during the last decade, as well as deep and fast growing income inequality along racial lines. What do you believe would need to change for the City of Cambridge to become the anti-racist community it aspires to be?
Cambridge is clearly a ‘tale of two cities’. For Cambridge to become the anti-racist community it aspires to be we need to work hard to level the playing field. Too many families in our community suffer from lack of housing stability, food insecurity and lack of access to jobs that can help solve these problems. These crises can only be solved if the citizens and companies in our community decide to work together to come up with more practical, less intellectual solutions to tackle them.
5. How do you propose creating a more inclusive approach to current community engagement strategies that research has shown overwhelmingly favor the wealthy? What ideas do you have to both increase the diversity of participants on City of Cambridge boards and committees, and make those governing bodies more inclusive and welcoming to all?
We need to work harder to make sure the voices of all Cantabrigians are heard and honored in our community. Most people in our community do not have the luxury of time to serve on city boards or commissions or to participate in the processes that are laid out by these groups. To hear their voices, we will need to ensure that the people that do have time to staff these organizations are willing to actively plan to meet them where they are and to listen to what they have to say.
6. How would you describe the role of Cambridge nonprofits in meeting the needs of Cambridge residents and advancing equity in our City? What do you believe is the ideal way for City councilors to engage with local nonprofits in service of achieving these goals?
Non-profit organizations are critical to meeting the needs of Cambridge residents and advancing equity in our City. Non-profits represent a stable foundation for the provision of services and should serve as an important channel by which City Councilors can better understand the needs of residents. City Councilors can learn from non-profits but should also be advocates for the services provided.