MIT Democrats endorses candidates for the Cambridge City Council and Boston mayoral race
Azeem, Sobrinho-Wheeler, Siddiqui, Bullister, and Wu address issues important to MIT students
While university students such as those at MIT make up large parts of the vibrant communities of both Cambridge and Boston, the issues important to us and the challenges we face are often not given their proper weight in the local governments of these cities. This November, in the Cambridge City Council race and the Boston Mayor’s race, we have a chance to make our voices heard as MIT students and elect local representatives that better reflect our generation, diverse backgrounds, and the issues that matter to us as students.
The five candidates MIT Democrats has chosen to endorse match the priorities of our generation and seek to address the challenges facing MIT students. Students living in Cambridge and Boston face an affordable housing crisis, with rents both on- and off-campus being driven sky-high by rising market rates. Most MIT students do not own cars and prioritize affordable public transportation and safer biking infrastructure. All members of our generation are constantly confronted with the existential threat of the climate crisis and want our elected officials to do more to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We as students value our diverse community — we want all MIT students regardless of their race or citizenship status to feel safe and welcome in Cambridge and Boston.
All of these candidates share our values on these issues so important to MIT students. They have detailed plans to increase housing affordability, combat the climate crisis, and improve public transit. We selected these candidates after a vigorous discussion and a vote of our membership. Thanks to Cambridge’s ranked choice voting system, we can lend our support to the following four candidates for Cambridge City Council.
Burhan Azeem graduated from MIT in 2019 with a degree in materials science and engineering. He ran and was endorsed by MIT Dems in 2019 and ended as the first runner-up. This year he is running again for Cambridge City Council on a platform centered around the issues that matter most to students: housing, transportation, and climate action. He has worked extensively on his proposed Cambridge Students Association to facilitate important dialogues between student leaders in Cambridge and city councilors to better engage and empower the Cambridge student population.
After immigrating from Pakistan to the U.S., where he came to personally understand housing instability through his family’s struggles, he delved into sustainability research at MIT and spent his free time becoming involved in local activist groups like A Better Cambridge focused on advocating for more affordable housing. Burhan’s primary comprehensive plan aims to address the climate crisis with the theory that building a more sustainable Cambridge means also building a more equitable Cambridge. Through investing in green, efficient transportation and pushing for dense, cost-effective and affordable housing development, Burhan believes that we can successfully create transformative change in the direction of both a better planet and a better city for everyone.
We believe that Burhan’s first-hand understanding of the interconnected nature of the problems that we face and his experience calling MIT home for four years make him the best candidate to be the voice that MIT students need in shaping the future of Cambridge.
Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler is a first-term city councilor, a renter, and a democratic socialist who currently serves as the Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee and Co-Chair of the Housing Committee in City Hall. Before taking office, he worked at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a land policy think tank focused on supporting conservation projects and helping other organizations build sustainable communities. As councilor, he has been vocal in his support of workers’ right to organize and specifically of the MIT Graduate Students Union, and has advocated for a citywide Green New Deal for Cambridge. He has also been involved with issue-focused community organizations such as the Democratic Socialists of America, Cambridge Bicycle Safety, and City Life/Vida Urbana to support tenant rights, strengthen bike infrastructure, and fight for a Cambridge that works for everyone.
Sumbul Siddiqui is a Cambridge native, Pakistani immigrant, and former attorney currently serving her first term as Mayor and second term as a city councilor. As mayor, she was tasked with handling the city’s COVID-19 response and made significant investments to directly support Cambridge families, small businesses, and residents as well as manage accessible testing and vaccination throughout the city. As someone whose family directly benefited from a lottery to enter the Cambridge affordable housing system, she has been a passionate advocate for tenants’ rights and funding new affordable housing construction. Additionally, she has used her time in office to advocate for better bike and transit infrastructure (including a fare-free T) and has had a consistent record of engaging with the MIT community and listening to the concerns of students throughout her tenure.
Dana Bullister is a long-time East Cambridge renter, data scientist, and MIT alumna running for a seat on the City Council for the first time. She studied the role of misinformation in political discourse early in her academic career and now teaches and researches how better data can drive more equitable and sustainability-focused policymaking at Northeastern University. She would bring needed expertise to the Council as it confronts the inter-linked challenges of increasing housing affordability, biking and pedestrian infrastructure, and access to public transit. A community advocate for increased transparency and people-centered decision-making with Our Revolution Cambridge, Dana would focus on accountability and openness in the selection of the next City Manager. Dana has modeled this ethic in her own campaign with weekly candidate town halls and has made engagement with student concerns a pillar of her candidacy.
In addition to these candidates in Cambridge, we also want MIT students who live in Boston to have their voices heard in the important Mayoral race — and the candidate that will best stand up for student priorities is Michelle Wu. Michelle knows what it is like to be a Boston-area university student from her time at Harvard, and she is now raising her family here. First elected in 2013 as an at-large member of the Boston City Council, Michelle has experience promoting diversity, fighting climate change, and standing up to corporate interests from within the local government. She is the only mayoral candidate that supports rent control, a bold reform to tackle the housing affordability crisis severely affecting students. She has proposed a detailed Green New Deal for Boston to cut emissions, improve climate resilience, and advance environmental justice. On transportation, Michelle is fighting for fare-free public transit, better biking infrastructure, and a safer Boston for pedestrians. Lastly, as a woman, Asian American, and child of immigrants, Michelle represents a historic chance to advance diversity in the leadership of Boston.
Call to Action
We encourage all MIT students to make their voices heard in these important upcoming elections! Look up your polling place here and make sure to vote November 2!
Our endorsement process: MIT Democrats hosted a discussion event about the 2021 local elections. Afterwards, we held a vote among our membership, and the above candidates were selected.
The following members of MIT Democrats assisted in writing this endorsement:
Seamus Lombardo, PhD candidate in Aeronautics and Astronautics, Executive Board Member of MIT Democrats
Andrea Arias, Undergraduate in Mathematics, Member of MIT Dems
Dahlia Dry, Undergraduate in Physics and Electrical Engineering, Member of MIT Dems
David Mazumder, Medical Student in Health Sciences and Technology, Member of MIT Dems