Many MIT students call Cambridge home and all students at the Institute are members of this vibrant community. However, although students make up around 20% of the population of Cambridge, we are woefully underrepresented by Cambridge’s City Council, where 8 of 9 members are over the age of 50 and do not give student concerns the consideration we deserve. This November, as all of City Council stands for re-election, we have a chance to change that.
MIT Democrats has chosen to endorse the following four candidates based on their support for policies which match the priorities of MIT students. Students care about building more affordable housing in Cambridge; as housing prices continue to rise, those of us who live off campus or seek to remain in the city after graduating struggle to find affordable apartments, and those of us who live on campus watch as dorm prices increase to match the Cambridge market rate. Students want better public transportation; most of us are pedestrians and bikers, not car owners, and we want to see the streets of Cambridge made safer for us. Students want to protect the environment; we will have to live with the worst of climate change, and we want to do everything possible to fight global warming and avert coming disaster. Finally, students are a diverse group. We are all either international students, first-generation Americans, or friends of those who are, and we want candidates who make Cambridge a safe and welcoming place to live for everyone, regardless of where they came from.
All the candidates we have endorsed share our values. They come from diverse backgrounds, are serious about fighting climate change, are advocating for better transportation, they have pledged to support the Affordable Housing Overlay and embraced other pro-housing policies. And thanks to Cambridge’s ranked choice voting, we can support all of them this November, as can every other student who lives in Cambridge and can register to vote in this year’s election.
However, one candidate in particular stands out. We endorse Burhan Azeem for your first-place vote. As a former MIT student, Burhan has firsthand experience with the struggles students face and he will undoubtedly be a strong advocate for the interests of young people in Cambridge. More importantly, Burhan understands how the issues we care about are all related. His vision for Cambridge as a city that can be a model for the world is inspiring, and we enthusiastically support him as our first choice for the City Council.
#1 Burhan Azeem
Burhan Azeem graduated from MIT in 2019 with a degree in materials science and engineering and is now running for Cambridge City Council on a platform centered around the issues that matter most to students: housing, transportation, and climate action. After immigrating from Pakistan to the US, 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. Additionally, his proposed Cambridge Students Association would engage Cambridge’s student population in local politics and empower them to advocate for their interests, facilitating important dialogues and making a lasting change in terms of student representation.
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.
Sumbul Siddiqui, an immigrant from Karachi, Pakistan and a product of Cambridge’s public schools, is currently serving her first term as a city councilor. Sumbul studied public policy at Brown University and earned a law degree from Northwestern University. Her agenda is focused on reinforcing affordable housing policy, promoting economic development (especially for small businesses), and fostering civic engagement. Sumbul’s passion for civic engagement at a young-age, work at New Profit promoting social mobility, and countless efforts as a public interest attorney for low-income and working-class people make her a strong candidate. We believe that Sumbul’s experience, values, and platform are a great match with the priorities of MIT students and Cambridge.
Jivan is a Cambridge renter and activist who has become a familiar face in the city council for his tireless advocacy of tenants struggling with poor housing conditions and threats of eviction. His degree in Human Ecology and work at a land policy think tank complement his commitment to building true affordable housing and fighting climate change in Cambridge. Jivan’s pro-housing platform includes establishing stronger tenant protections, eliminating restrictive and outdated zoning laws, and creating an Office of Housing Stability to provide direct support for Cambridge’s renters. He also advocates for a Cambridge Green New Deal which includes expanding bike lanes and investing in our city’s public transit as well as creating a Clean Energy Initiative to fund environmentally friendly projects. Jivan’s record and platform are proof of his commitment to the values he and MIT students share, and he would be an excellent addition to the Cambridge city council.
Alanna Mallon grew up in Brockton, has lived in Cambridge for 15 years, and began serving her first term in 2018. She supports policies to ease the rent burdens on young renters and students, including promoting development by easing some zoning regulations. Her platform also includes promoting density near transit that will reduce transportation CO2 emissions, more protected bike lanes, and promotion of funding for the arts. Her record during her first term as a pro-housing councilor shows that she is an important voice for students and young renters in Cambridge.