A big THANK YOU to Cambridge voters!

November 3, 2021

Thank you, Cambridge voters! I’m thrilled that you re-elected me so enthusiastically, particularly given the complex, challenging, and often emotionally-charged policy issues we have faced this Council term. You’ll find preliminary election results on the Election Commission’s website — scroll down for results and links to the details.  While there are still ballots to be counted, no major shifts in the results are expected. 

I’m particularly pleased that the three ballot questions — which flowed from logical questions I asked about how our our city government works, about accountability to the voters, and which unified all eight of the incumbents who ran — received overwhelming support from you this election. Roughly 70% of voters chose yes on all three.  You can find my take on them here and preliminary results on the Election Commission’s website.

I did celebrate briefly, and I really appreciate the support. That said, I’m known for getting stuff done.  So I’m off to City Hall now because many of you have expressed concerns about unresolved issues and some new ones emerging just now.  Whether you voted for me or not, please share your thoughts and concerns with me. I’ll respond, and then do my best to represent your (and everyone else’s) perspectives, bring people together, and craft policy that makes good sense. 

If you’re interested in the details, take a look at my priorities, below.


I love this job, am honored to have it. I pledge to continue playing the unique and critical role that has led so many of you to support me.  To those who didn’t support me, know first that at one time or another, almost all of my supporters have disagreed with me about something important to them. They stick with me because I am honest with them, listen carefully, do my best to bring together all points of view into reasonable policy, and change my mind when the facts call for it.

If there’s one thing for which I stand, it’s accountability — the City’s and the Council’s — to the voters: to commitments we make, to decision-making grounded in data and solid analysis, to listening carefully to all points of view, to addressing the true complexity of the issues we face, and to principles of responsible governance.  Passing the ballot questions was an important first step.  In 2022, we’ll need to form an independent Commission, which will review the Charter, assess whether and how to improve it, and then submit any proposed changes to the city’s voters for approval.

To get a sense of the integrity and transparency of my work, and to keep current, take a look at the updates on my news page. To receive these newsletters, sign up here.


“I have known Patty Nolan politically for almost 20 years. She is not my friend although I like and respect her. I know her from her community work and Cambridge School Committee efforts. She basically invented the “follow the data” concept that people cleave to so strongly now, poring through research on secondary education best practices and data outcomes to improve the system.

Ms. Nolan is relentless in her honesty, integrity and absolute evenhanded fairness when deliberating issues. She will tell the truth even if she risks losing a supporter. In short, she is not stupid, and she is no coward! But nor is she an aloof policy wonk, either. Patty is engaging, friendly, and clearly listens and cares about Cambridge, the issues, and ALL Cantabridgians.

She gets my #1 vote for City Council and I hope yours, too.”
   – Bill Donaldson, North Cambridge

Patty's Priorities

(Click any item below to view it.)

Equity and justice are central to my thought process. They, and an emphasis on practical action, are evident in my work: City action on the long-neglected but critical issue of municipal broadband, implementation of programs for climate mitigation and resilience both of which profoundly increase inequity, insistence that equity-building and home ownership supplement rent-focused policy in our city’s affordable housing programs, use of reparations to help counter the effects of prejudice embedded in over a century’s-worth of government policy, meaningful police reform sensitive to all citizen’s views, and equal educational achievement standards for all students independent of race. All are examples of specific policies I champion that go beyond feel-good declarations to actually move the city to be more equitable and just. More Details

Nothing else will matter if the planet continues on the current path of unsustainable consumption and growth. As a result of my commitment to the environment and my effectiveness as a climate leader, the Mass Sierra Club has endorsed me, and I was appointed chair of the Mayor’s Climate Crisis Working Group. My emphasis: ensuring that our goals are in-line with the science and the planet’s demands, independent of the many other pressures (including political) that officials may face; ensuring that our efforts are well-planned, properly resourced, and ambitious in their timing; leveraging the know-how within our city and beyond; being transparent in sharing progress; and holding ourselves accountable to our goals. More Details

The Coronavirus crisis is real, and we can get through it with preparation and clear-headed action. My focus is on making sure that the Council acts rationally, based on up-to-date science and lessons learned elsewhere, and thinking critically so we don’t accept easy but inappropriate answers. More Details

One of my major priorities this term was to push for responsible, rational, and comprehensive governance to hold the City, including the Council, accountable. After 80 years of failure to review the City’s charter — the document that defines the fundamentals of how our government operates — I successfully led an effort on charter reform that led to three changes proposed as questions on the November ballot; all three were  approved overwhelmingly by voters. I also focus on holding the City and Council accountable for the goals it has set, decisions made, and on costly and valuable research and planning that too often is forgotten or ignored.  Finally, we need to do a better job of walking our talk about being a progressive and leading city, and our goals now must address the broad cause of social justice and the specific issues raised by Black Lives Matter. More Details 

We all know it: There’s a crisis of affordable housing in Cambridge. Only very wealthy people can afford to buy or, increasingly, rent unless they qualify for subsidies. Inclusionary zoning, higher linkage fees, and Section 8 rent changes based on zip codes have led to more units being affordable. But the need, and the complexity of the issues involved, are both tremendous. We must thoughtfully assess new proposals to understand their likely effectiveness and secondary impacts. More Details

Our neighborhoods thrive when the city respects its citizens, they feel respected, their input is honored, and they have a say in changes. As chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Committee, I have focused on how the city can be supportive of neighborhood groups, and have worked with CDD to ensure action in response to their needs.  More Details

This concept includes arts, diversity, effective transportation, sane development, and more. My priorities center on a relentless focus on the arts, inclusion, diversity, accessible affordable public transit, supporting multi-modal forms of transit, and sustainable development. More Details

On School Committee I was a passionate and effective advocate for higher expectations, bold goals including equally high expectations for the entirety of our diverse student body, engaged classrooms, and more programs like Montessori and bilingual immersion that close achievement gaps and are highly desirable to families. The City Council role’s in education relates to overall budget, building (if we need to build more schools), and expanding preschools, afterschools and summer programs.  My knowledge of the schools combined with my willingness to do research means that you have a Councilor able to evaluate effectively, and thus critique, this essential contributor to our children’s future and enormous portion of our City’s budget. More Details

Along with cities throughout the US, we are stepping up efforts to address our country’s history of slavery and racism and its impact on our institutions and systems. Exploring a shift in emphasis from traditional policing to social services is an important step, but just one of many. The Cambridge Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team (the HEART proposal) is an exciting and important initiative; and I was happy to be the lead sponsor of a policy order to support HEART.  More Details

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