City Council Candidate Profiles, Group 4 of 5

Cambridge City HallPhoto by Adrianne Mathiowetz.

This year, 26 candidates are running for Cambridge’s nine City Council seats.

Scout is putting together profiles on every candidate running for City Council so that voters can get informed about the slate of people who could shape Cambridge for the next two years.

Election Day is Nov. 7, and the last day to register to vote is Oct. 18. Find your voting location here.

The City Council candidate profiles are not grouped in any particular order. Read batches one, two, and three, and keep an eye out for the final groups of candidates. Candidates’ answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.

 

Bryan Sutton

What should we know about you?

I grew up in upstate New York and went to college in Colorado. I’m a scientist with a degree in aerospace engineering and astrophysics. When I moved to this area a few years ago I immediately felt this was home. Cambridge is an amazing city with great amenities and a community of supportive neighbors.

My time outside of work is spent walking Macy, my puppy of nine years, and on weekends we volunteer with Caring Canines as a therapy team visiting seniors, children, and special needs patients in facilities and hospitals. I am involved with local groups working on political reform such as Represent.Us, Cambridge Residents for Responsible Elections, and Voter Choice Massachusetts. In my free time, I enjoy going to the city’s awesome coffee shops and running along the Charles River.

My decade of experience in the transportation industry has given me the skills to manage large-scale operations, projects, and facilities. I can analyze complex systems and make data driven decisions. Years in customer service taught me how to turn ideas into action and measure the results for effectiveness. My focus now is serving the public and helping government work for the people.

What would your top three priorities be if elected?

1) Affordable housing

2) Campaign finance and political office reform

3) Climate resilience and green initiatives

What are three specific new programs or changed you would make if elected?

1) Create a comprehensive scorecard for all affordable housing metrics and publish it on the city website. Track the impact of each initiative against its projection. This will keep us focused on programs that give solid results and disregard ones that don’t.

2) Political reform including publicly funded elections, term limits, and an extended cooling-off period from elected office to working for a developer or lobbyist firm.

3) Begin growing our electric vehicle charging network. I can only find one charging station not in a pay garage.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

Professionally, I am an engineer and trained to make decisions based on data instead of anecdotal information. I have more than a decade of experience in transportation and project management. Also, I am actively working to end the influence of money in politics. Besides my work with Cambridge Residents for Responsible Elections, which is trying to bring publicly funded elections to Cambridge, I am also very active with Represent Us and a member of their regional Steering Committee. I will be speaking on behalf of Represent Us later this month at a UU Mass Action forum on money in politics.

Give us a fun fact about you.

I’ve had to relearn to walk three separate times in the last few years from sports injuries. However, besides now having some extra ankle screws, I’ve worked toward a full recovery and will be running the Cambridge half marathon this November with a target of two hours.

 

Richard Harding

What should we know about you?

I am Cambridge born and bred. I attended public schools in Cambridge and graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and Fitchburg University. I am a kid from Cambridge that grew up in the projects and worked at the State House. I have been elected to the Cambridge School Committee for seven terms, serving as vice chair and co-chairing the budget committee and contract negotiations. I have co-chaired the kids council and served on the neighborhood safety task force’s employment sub-committee. I am a past chair of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee. I am a consultant to the transitional jobs program, CambridgeWorks, and serve as vice president of the Cambridge NAACP. I owe Cambridge a lot and that is why I have, and will continue to, fight to keep Cambridge the greatest place in the world to live, work, learn, and play.

What would your top three priorities be if elected?

1)  Tackling income inequality with efforts like universal pre-k and jobs training that give working families a chance to join in the greatness of our city

2) Inclusive, responsible family and neighborhood-friendly housing that allows people to stay and move back to living in Cambridge

3) Addressing the opioid crisis that is quietly decimating a generation

What are three specific new programs or changes you would make if elected?

1) Universal pre-k, our children and our working families deserve this right now and I bring the perspective to get it done

2) Extending residency benefit for 10 years for Cambridge people who are entering into public safety jobs–fire and police–so that they can serve the city they love.

3) Moving from 20 percent to 25 percent affordable units with some parameters. We need affordable units for families, not just micro-units.

What sets you apart from other candidates? 

I have been working to make Cambridge work for all of its people for over 20 years. I was a youth worker at the Moses Youth Center, I interned with Joe Kennedy’s Citizen’s Energy, I was constituent director for State Senator Steve Tolman, and I work on health disparities at the Cambridge Health Alliance.

Give us a fun fact about you.

My daughter, also a public school kid, is a junior at UMass – Amherst.

 

Tim Toomey (Note: Toomey currently serves on the City Council.)

What should we know about you? 

I’m a lifelong resident of Cambridge and have been proudly representing its residents for many years, first on the School Committee, and then later as a State Representative and a City Councillor. I grew up and continue to live in East Cambridge–I truly love this city.

What would your top three priorities be if elected?

1) Affordable Housing – expand upon the existing supply so that people of all means can afford to live in Cambridge

2) Open space – parks are an important part of any community and bring its members together

3) Social services – Cambridge must continue to offer a variety of vital services to its residents

What are three specific new programs or changes you would make if elected?

1)  Housing overlay district – expand affordable housing programs and development to all parts of the city, including transit-oriented areas, such as the former Episcopal Divinity School site

2) Finding new ways to fund affordable housing development – transfer fees, linkage fees, and inclusionary requirements, along with bold and innovative ideas, will allow us to continue to face the housing crisis head-on

3) Grand Junction Path – this path will link neighborhoods together and create multipurpose recreation areas for residents of all ages

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I believe my experience and track record is a tremendous asset. I have a history of tangible accomplishments going back many years and have seen projects through to completion from when they were initial ideas. I am a lifelong resident and have seen the city change over the years, but the city’s core character and its values of inclusion have endured. I think this background offers a needed perspective as Cambridge addresses the needs of its residents and continues to evolve.

Give us a fun fact about you.

I take long walks along the Charles several times a week–it’s my form of relaxation and allows me to clear my head. I also particularly enjoy competitive card games for fun.

 

Ronald Benjamin

Ronald Benjamin did not answer Scout’s questions for this series. You can read about his platform on his website.

 

Olivia D’Ambrosio

Olivia D’Ambrosio did not answer Scout’s questions for this series. You can read about her platform on her website.

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