Council Updates and vote, vote, vote!

I voted early last week!

All:

The state primary for statewide offices is TOMORROW, September 1.  The election will almost certainly determine who will be the next US Senator since our state will likely elect in November whoever wins the Democratic primary.  Also, several state representative races will be decided in the primary, and the Governor’s Council elections. Note if you are an unaffiliated voter (as 40% of Cantabridgians are), you may vote in the primary by asking for the ballot of any party.  [Remember to unenroll from the party you choose to vote for if you want to remain unaffiliated after the election.]  

Early voting has ended and it is too late to send in your mail in ballot (since it needs to arrive on or before election day) so here are your voting options:

  • In person! Check here to see your polling place since some have been moved to accommodate covid restrictions and ensure safety of all voters and poll workers. All polls are open 7 am – 8 pm.  If you are in line by 8 pm, you have a right to vote.  

  • Drop your mail-in ballot at the Election Commission at 51 Inman Street – do NOT try and drop it at a polling place tomorrow. If you have a mail in ballot but have not yet put it in the mail, bring it to 51 Inman anytime between 8am and 8pm today or tomorrow. 

Streets for people

The space in the pictures you see above of beautiful outdoor patios used to be a few lanes of road and parking. Now, it’s a long stretch of wonderful, relaxing space for patrons to sit outside and enjoy food and drink while supporting local businesses. The only problem? It isn’t in Cambridge! These pictures are from Moody Street in Waltham, where I went for dinner last week, and made me want to work that much harder to create space like this in Cambridge. While the city has helped businesses with outdoor seating following a policy order I co-sponsored in June, there is so much potential to do more. We have lost so many local businesses already – it is imperative we do more to support them. Turning our squares into more Moody Streets would be a great boost. And yes, the cherry trees are fake, yet they provided a nice ambiance that was real.  

COVID Testing in Cambridge:

Cambridge has continued to provide testing to residents at no cost, and while we should (and need) testing at higher levels, we are lucky compared with many other cities to have the access we do. To date, Cambridge has conducted over 8,000 COVID-19 tests for residents through the city’s testing program alone (not counting people who were tested elsewhere or private testing), with over 4,000 COVID-19 tests administered in July and August alone. The COVID-19 positivity rate continues to be low and declining in the City of Cambridge, with a 14-day average positivity rate of 0.31%, which should be a number that we are excited to see. While it does not give us a reason to relax the restrictions in place, it does make sense in my opinion to make plans for re-opening schools and workplaces. We must be cognizant of surrounding communities, with more cases and fewer resources to deal with this public health crisis. However, we must also be leaders in finding a way to safely educate students at every level and to get back to work in a safe way.  

There will be no more tests this month and during the first week of September. Locations of September testing appointments will be released as soon as they are available. From the City: Residents seeking a test before September 9th are encouraged to check with their healthcare providers or visit area urgent care centers to access COVID-19 testing.

Bike Safety 

We recently lost another Cambridge resident to an accident on our streets – a cyclist was killed in Harvard Square by a large truck. The full details are not yet known, but what we do know is that there have been multiple road fatalities in that section of Harvard Square in the last year, and the plan to make the square safer has not been implemented. What is the hold up? When the city knows that a (relatively) small change will make an area safer, the changes need to be prioritized and accelerated. 

The city has responded by making the “quick build” changes that are part of the overall plan.  Quick-build plans include changes to the roadway that can be made with pavement markings, flex posts, signs, and signal timing changes. You can check the project page here to see the full plan (also pictured above).

The Common from above during a protest earlier this summer

Nineteenth Amendment Selection Committee Artist Selection Meeting:

The Nineteenth Amendment Selection Committee will meet to select a winning artist/artist team and proposal for artwork commemorating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Join the meeting here. I am thrilled that the city worked to acknowledge this milestone. As with other advances for civil rights passing the amendment alone did not guarantee that the right to vote would be honored, especially and notably the right meant little for Black women (and men), Indigenous women (and men), immigrant women (and men) all of whom were prevented from voting through a range of suppression tactics.  That work is continuing even today. As a country we do not make voting easy or convenient, and in some cases we enact policies and practices that make it difficult or impossible to vote.  [vote tomorrow, and on November 3 – many died and fought for that right.]

I also want to acknowledge that some people in the community are expressing concern that the monument, depending on which proposal is selected, may further reduce the amount of green, open space in our precious Common.  I have thought about how to balance this concern with a process of selection and discussion that began over a year ago and has culminated after hundreds of hours of planning and design in this final stage. I look forward to seeing how the committee charged with selection will address the concern.  What is clear is that the city has precious little open green space, especially in the entire eastern half of the city. So there are not many alternatives to the Common when we consider a monument placement. As the picture of the Common (above) reminds us, that place is often the central gathering place for people wanting to express themselves – from protests to singing to rallies to educational events.   

Update on Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund and other sources of funding

Cambridge has been lucky to receive funding and donations from numerous sources to give much needed resources to many of our residents. While the federal government should and must do more, Cambridge’s unique financial security has provided a good jumping off point – so far more than $13 million has been distributed to residents, small businesses, and non-profits that are struggling. 

You can see the various funding sources here.

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