Now more than ever, our cities and towns need to take the initiative and stand up for civil rights, civil liberties, and democracy. The Trump administration has already taken steps to crack down on legal and undocumented immigrants, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ+ protections. Trump’s attorney general has made it clear that local communities like Cambridge are our own when it comes to criminal justice reform, civilian oversight, and racial and gender identity-based profiling. In response, the City Council must work proactively to protect our residents from federal overreach, and to prevent further erosion of our civil liberties. We must take a stand to keep Cambridge the safe, inclusive, and welcoming community that it has always been, and mobilize whatever resources we can to remain a city where all can live and thrive.
As your city councillor, I will:
Demilitarize our police force, promote community-based policing, and maintain civilian oversight to prevent racial profiling.
- The increasing militarization of the police has been amplified nationwide. Just recently, the Trump administration reauthorized the unrestricted transfer of surplus military equipment to local police departments. Our own police department already possesses 25 fully-automatic M16A1 rifles received from the Department of Defense, as well as a BearCat armored personnel carrier. I stand with the ACLU in saying that military-grade hardware has no place in day-to-day policing, and contributes to the escalation of an us-versus-them mentality. I will vote to ban any further acquisition of surplus military equipment, and order a review of existing policies with respect to its use.
Although new technologies like body cameras have the potential to increase public safety and civilian oversight, I was deeply concerned by the City Manager’s decision to reject the proposed surveillance ordinance. We have a right to know what the impacts of any such technology are before it is implemented. I will vote in favor of a new surveillance ordinance, and work to preemptively ban the use of facial recognition software in conjunction with surveillance technology, on the grounds that it further perpetuates race- and class-based profiling and discrimination.
Although some may be surprised to hear it, Cambridge is not immune to the individual ramifications of structural and institutional racism. It is painfully obvious to many that racial profiling by the Cambridge police remains an issue. In some cases, investigations by internal review boards are insufficient and impartial, and statements from the Office of the Attorney General have made it clear that investigating systematic discrimination in policing is not a priority at the federal level. As such, I will support external investigations - when and where appropriate - when they are called for by constituents, fellow councillors, or interest groups, to both help us find the facts and learn how to move forward as a city.
Uphold and protect the dignity, rights, and liberties of our LGBTQ+ residents
I am committed to making Cambridge the most inclusive environment it can be for LGBTQ+ persons. In a city that trains police forces and builds city commissions to work on these issues, it is not acceptable that we still lack inclusive bathrooms throughout most of the city. Inclusivity trainings, such as ones used for the LGBT police group or created by the LGBTQ+ Commission, should be accessible to all. Elderly LGBTQ+ persons should feel comfortable with their identities among caretakers and peers in group homes. I will work with the City Council to adopt an inclusive bathroom ordinance ,and implement the best practices advocated in the LGBTQ Seniors Housing Report. I will support the joint efforts of the LGBTQ+ Commission and the Human Rights Commission to make education on LGBTQ+ issues and identities more accessible to the public. I will seek funding to maintain outreach programs for LGBTQ+ youth and homeless individuals. I will vote to appoint an Executive Director for the LGBTQ Commission to streamline and coordinate all these efforts for maximum efficiency and efficacy.
Stand with state legislators and nonprofit organizations to protect reproductive rights and maintain access to contraceptives.
As the executive branch and Republican-controlled Congress seeks to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal ACA provisions requiring insurers to cover birth control, maintaining access to family planning services in the face of federal opposition will be a major priority. I will vote for a resolution to support efforts in state legislature to expand insurance coverage of contraceptives. I will support and expand existing family planning outreach and education in Cambridge schools and hospitals. I will stand strong with Planned Parenthood to ensure that clinics remain open and accessible in the face of anti-choice protesters.
Tear down barriers to participation in local government to ensure and ensure all of our residents’ voices are heard.
- Immigration status should have no bearing on whether or not residents have the opportunity to have a voice in the governance of our city. We cannot wait for Beacon Hill to take the lead on this. I will propose a home rule petition to extend voting rights in municipal elections to include permanent residents and naturalized citizens. Once passed by our city council I will work with our Cambridge delegation in the General Court to ensure the passage of the petition in both the House and Senate.
In the face of coordinated nationwide efforts to enact voter suppression laws, registering to vote should be nowhere near as difficult and confusing as it often is. I will pressure the State House to enact legislation for automatic, opt-out voter registration, and to vote for an ordinance requiring landlords to provide tenants with voter registration forms upon signing a lease. Alongside automatic voter registration, early voting has been proven to increase participation in the democratic process. I will advocate for expanding early voting to include municipal elections.
Voting sites inaccessible to those with disabilities are ableist, discriminatory, and an impediment to the democratic process. I will allocate city resources to make voting sites accessible to disabled Cambridge residents.
City bureaucracy is difficult enough to navigate without a language barrier. We have a wealth of information informing residents of their rights and the resources available to them, yet so much of it is difficult to find and often exists only in English. I will provide translations of city legal and informational documents in the languages (Amharic, Kreyol, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish) spoken by our largest immigrant and minority communities, and ensure they can be fully utilized. I will always work to streamline and unify.
Maintain and protect our status as a sanctuary city.
We must work to protect undocumented residents, crucial to our culture and economy, from the threat of deportation by ICE. I will ensure city offices refuse to cooperate with Trump’s unethical and un-American crackdown on the undocumented. I will vote to ban ICE officers from entering schools and other city-owned buildings without a warrant. I will vote to direct CPD officers not to question detained individuals about their immigration status. I will vote to establish a city fund to provide legal aid and assistance to those facing deportation proceedings. Unlike criminal courts, immigration courts do not guarantee public counsel. I would propose following New York City’s lead in creating a pilot program to guarantee due process to those threatened with deportation. Moreover, I will vote to use city funds and personnel to coordinate existing efforts by the Community Engagement Team and other nonprofits to reach out to immigrant communities, ensure they are aware of their rights and the resources, and empower them to serve as advocates and activists themselves.
Improving Government Accessibility
I will make the part-time role of City Councillor my full-time job. The challenges of our city require committed leadership and constant attention to detail. I will explore ways to increase government transparency, accessibility, and accountability through greater investments in open data and new methods of communicating with all residents.
Fostering Civic Engagement
Residents should have more opportunities to determine how they are governed. I am a coalition builder and will foster stronger partnerships with our city's nonprofits, businesses, universities, and other key stakeholders. I will explore ways to replicate innovative approaches to public engagement such as Participatory Budgeting in other areas of city government. I will push the City Council to convene meetings outside of City Hall in our neighborhood youth centers and other community spaces. I will also revive the initiative to expand voting rights to 17-year-olds in local elections to increase voter engagement among our next generation.