New faces, new priorities

Social justice, housing are priorities for freshly elected city pols: “You can’t speak up on the development issue if you are taking a lot of money from developers”

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On our live-streaming show and podcast The Young Jurks, we recently interviewed the faces of five winning municipal campaigns, four of whom were first-time candidates, about how they won their seats and what they hope to achieve in office. Below are some of their responses; they’re in no particular order, we just thought they were the most relevant comments for our politically active readers.

“I didn’t take anything for granted,” Cambridge City Councilor-elect Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler said. “I knew we had a lot of support. We did a lot of door knocking, but I was blown away on election day.”

What made you stand out?

Sobrinho-Wheeler: I’m a renter like two-thirds of Cambridge residents, and now we have a representati[ve] on the City Council. I walk, bike, and take public transport living in a city where the T is dysfunctional. The Red Line broke down and caught fire in the last six months, buses are constantly getting caught. While the City Council has free parking behind City Hall.

Boston City Councilor-at-Large-elect* Julia Mejia: As a first-time candidate with no political background, I didn’t have the big heavy-hitters on my side. That we have come this far speaks volumes to what is possible; it goes to show that anybody can do this. I think we are changing the face and look of what politicians look and sound like.

What made the difference for you to win a seat in your first-ever campaign?

Sobrinho-Wheeler: The movement for sure, Boston [Democratic Socialists of America] DSA, they had so many door knockers for us, and [the Sunrise Movement], we had 30, 40 with Sunrise come out door knocking, pushing a Green New Deal in Cambridge, and now we are going to bring these movements more into City Hall.

Mejia: This has been about activating folks to participate. A lot of people who had never voted voted for the first time and felt that their vote really mattered; people who have never worked on campaigns before who volunteered, I really want to keep that energy going.

Malden City Councilor-elect Amanda Linehan: We made a huge effort to reach out to renters, the Chinese community, other folks that traditionally get ignored.

What helped you get back in?

Cambridge City Councilor Quinton Zondervan: It was about justice, it was about taking action on climate change, and it was about housing. … We need rent control and I think voters have clearly indicated that is a priority right now. 

How do you plan on following through in office?

Boston City Councilor-elect Liz Breadon: People are very concerned about the housing issue and that was my number one issue. Back when I started in January, and it really resonated with people on the streets and on the doors, I made a decision to run a grassroots campaign that was largely funded on the local level and not to take money from big developers, that also resonated with people. You can’t speak up on the development issue if you are taking a lot of money from developers.

Mejia: It wasn’t so much about winning but how we win. That really mattered to me; we set out to engage the least likely and we have, and I feel really good about our work.  

Linehan: I have a slate of affordable housing items that I’d like to get done, like finally adopting an inclusionary ordinance in Malden, starting down payment and security deposit assistance program, setting up an affordable housing trust fund for the first time.

Making sure that this gets done the right way is my top priority.

*Mejia unofficially beat Alejandra St. Guillen for the fourth at-large Boston City Council seat by 8 votes. A recount is underway at the time of this writing.


Mike Crawford is a Massachusetts medical cannabis patient, founder of The Young Jurks and You can listen to The Young Jurks or wherever else podcasts are streamed. This article was produced with support from Midnight Mass and The Young Jurks, where your contributions are greatly appreciated and help us deliver more local coverage.

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