As expected, the city council voted to approve the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proposal to add nearly 1 million square feet of commercial office space to the grounds of the institute’s East Campus by Kendall Square. The zoning change clears the way for MIT to build large, corporate office towers on a tract of land that had previously been earmarked for future research and academic needs.
For all the jobs, taxes and benefits that will be created by this new construction, the fact remains that the MIT plan comes up short in two areas of great concern to all Cantabrigians: housing and sustainability.
Over the past few months, through a series of public statements, only one presumptive City Council candidate has consistently raised awareness about the two major flaws in this massive upzoning deal. That candidate is Mike Connolly.
Last year, with the help of an incredible group of friends, neighbors, and volunteers, I was able to mount a competitive campaign for State Representative without accepting any financial contributions.
We didn't quite win the election (most folks don't win their first time out) — but thanks to our 93 volunteers, we earned a remarkable chunk of the vote in what the Phoenix called "one of the most exciting" races in the country.
A few weeks later, I was approached by members of the MIT community who asked me to help raise awareness about the plight of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are struggling with the insanely-priced Cambridge rental housing market.
As I learned about the situation — and about MIT's plans to build a series of corporate office towers in the middle of campus — I had the opportunity to attend dozens of meetings and chat with hundreds of residents all over town.
In early February, I published a 1,600-word essay in Cambridge Day that showed how the city could effectively open up a large stock of rental housing if MIT would offer more housing to its grad students. The essay received a tremendous response and was picked up by at least a half-dozen other news sources...
Thank you once again for your support during our recent campaign for State Representative. I hope you had a chance to read the recap and thank you message that I sent out to all of our supporters a few weeks ago.
Now that the campaign season is over, I am eagerly getting back to doing what I was doing prior to running for office — grassroots organizing and local activism to advance the progressive agenda...
It's been two weeks since Election Day — and in case you missed it, Tim Toomey won the race for State Representative with 68% of the vote; we came in second-place with 26% of the vote, and Republican Tom Vasconcelos finished third with 5% of the vote.
It wasn't the outcome that we were hoping for — but nevertheless, it's pretty awesome to think about how much we accomplished in such a short amount of time...
When I started organizing this campaign back in the spring, my goal was clear: I set out to provide the people of Cambridge and Somerville with an independent, progressive alternative to the status quo on Beacon Hill — and I was determined to do it without accepting any financial contributions...
In the photos from the debates, No Money Mike Connolly’s 6’8” frame dwarfs his opponents, but this election is even bigger than No Money Mike. Mike Connolly has excellent ideas for the local issues that are important to residents in the 26th. However, the even more exciting reason to vote for Mike is what I like to call his BIG Idea.
I met Mike while working with a local group on the issue of overturning Citizens United. During that time, he sent the BIG Idea to me in an email:
“My plan is to win the support of 6,000 voters, thus getting elected to the State House without accepting *any* donations. After this happens, people everywhere will hear about it -- and they will want the same thing in their districts -- so that in 2 years, thousands of other people all do the same thing -- and in four years or so, it becomes morally unacceptable to run for public office using a lot of money.”
I was immediately energized by the potential impact. Imagine our government transforming election by election! When I think of the millions of dollars spent on the 2012 election and how many people we could have fed, schools we could have enriched, and/or infrastructure we could have strengthened, I get overwhelmed with the hopelessness that accompanies a feeling of powerlessness. But the BIG Idea reminds me that the power resides with the people - with you and with me.
This election isn’t just about choosing one candidate with great ideas over another candidate with different ideas. This is getting back to the true power of democracy - the idea that the power resides with the people. We, the people, overwhelmingly support the idea of getting money out of politics, yet our current government doesn’t reflect that. By voting for Mike, you’re voting for the Big Idea. Make it morally unacceptable to run for public office using a lot of money. Make East Cambridge and East Somerville the place where BIG change started by being one of the 6000 that voted in favor of the BIG Idea. Vote for Mike Connolly and the BIG Idea tomorrow!
I was at a party recently, telling people about Mike’s campaign. A friend turned to me incredulously and said, “wait, since when are you into politics?” The answer, to me, was simple: I got into politics when I learned that there truly is the potential make a difference, and it starts at the local level. I learned about this potential from Mike Connolly and the incredible team of people working with him.
I urge everyone, especially those who, like me, have felt disillusioned by the political process, to take a good hard look at this campaign. If you find yourself inspired like I have, please consider spreading the word to others in Cambridge and Somerville about Mike Connolly. We have just two days until election day, and every vote is going to matter!