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Braude Focuses on Coalition-building

By Frank Dabek

Jim Braude’s campaign for Cambridge City Council stresses coalition-building among city leaders along with the hot issues of a strong mayor, affordable housing, and development.

Coalition-building is important to Braude since he has seen “petty personal conflicts standing in the way” of important issues in Cambridge such as affordable housing and the easing of racial tensions. In his previous experience as a housing lawyer and member of a tax and budget advocacy group, Braude said that he took pride in the “consensus [he has] been able to fuse.”

Braude also supports direct election of Cambridge’s mayor. The mayor is currently chosen from among the city councillors. Instituting a strong mayor would require amending the city’s charter. Braude hopes to begin the process with a “high profile debate” on the issue of a strong mayor.

Cambridge government is limited because voters don’t know “where the pressure points are” and can’t effectively petition their elected leaders, Braude said. He hopes that a democratically elected mayor will lead to “greater participation [in government] on election day and after.”

“Democracy is the cure for what ails a cynical electorate in Cambridge,” Braude said.

Role of universities

Braude hopes to further integrate Cambridge’s universities into the city’s culture. “Both Harvard and MIT should see themselves as far more citizens of Cambridge and far less citizens of the world.”

He pointed out that both institutions could do much more to help the city through their immense financial resources. The city spent $4.5M on affordable housing last year, Braude said, which is roughly the amount Harvard earns in daily interest on its endowment.

Both MIT and Harvard should aid the city more and “challenge fellow urban university presidents” to also do more for their communities.

Braude praised the campaign of MIT undergraduate and fellow Cambridge Civic Association endorsee Erik C. Snowberg ’99. He expressed “tremendous admiration for what [Snowberg] is doing... [He] actually had the courage to join this field.”

Braude “urges [students] to give him, not me, their number one votes” and hopes that students will “decide I’m worthy of number two.”

Braude supports rent control

Braude signed a petition by the Cambridge Citizens for Rent Equity supporting the return of rent control. His plan for affordable housing also includes broader government support for housing.

The “ultimate solution is a far broader government mandate” to improve access to housing, he said. Braude proposes supporting affordable housing through taxation much the way the public school system is funded. Local officials should also lobby state and national governments for assistance with housing, he said. Braude suggested that Massachusetts could finance affordable housing instead of cutting state taxes.

Keeping Cambridge down-to-earth

Braude also supports limiting the scale of development in Cambridge. “Most people don’t have to live on the 19th floor” in Cambridge, he said. He proposes limiting development to “keep the city on a human scale.” Braude would fight “developers who... appear to have more power than people.”