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As Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui seeks a third term on the City Council this November, she is making affordable housing and universal pre-K her top priorities.
Siddiqui was first elected to the council in 2017. After winning a second term in 2019, she was elected by a unanimous vote to become the first Muslim mayor in Massachusetts the following January.
Siddiqui immigrated to the United States from Karachi, Pakistan at two years old and grew up in the Roosevelt Towers and Rindge Towers — some of the city’s affordable housing developments. She was educated in the Cambridge public school system, and graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in public policy from Brown University and law degree from Northwestern, Siddiqui returned to Massachusetts to serve as a legal aid attorney for low-income residents in Greater Boston.
“I really got involved in politics because I felt like I could combine my background in constituent services and policy work and interests to a position where I could have a bigger impact on people as an elected official,” she said. “I've been able to do that.”
As mayor, she helped forge an agreement between the city and the Rindge Associates Limited Partnership to preserve 504 units of affordable housing at Fresh Pond Apartments. Siddiqui listed the agreement — announced on Oct. 13 — as one of her most significant accomplishments.
Siddiqui said she is also proud of her role in leading Cambridge through the pandemic.
“It was such an uncertain time, so I’m just proud that we were able to help so many people, and continue to help a lot of people after such a scary time,” she said.
If reelected, Siddiqui said she hopes to continue her work on affordable housing and take a lead on universal pre-K, including acquiring more property for the city to build affordable units.
Siddiqui also reiterated support for the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Automobile Workers ahead of its second strike in two years.
“The council has spoken out many times in support of the Harvard grad school union,” she said. “I’m there with them.”
At her previous job, she was a member of the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW Local 2320.
With the Nov. 2 election taking place during an off-cycle year, Siddiqui said Cantabrigians should still recognize the importance of their vote, and said she hopes turnout will be strong.
“I hope people vote, it’s so important to vote,” she said. “I think our turnout in local elections isn’t as robust as other cycles, so I just want people to vote, and obviously I’m looking for that number one vote.”
“I think it’s a different kind of election in some ways, post-pandemic, but I think hopefully people are paying attention,” she added.
Living almost her entire life in Cambridge, Siddiqui said this run for reelection is motivated by her desire to give back to the city and its residents.
“This city’s helped me a lot,” she said. “I also recognize that there’s so many people who haven’t been helped, and so I want to close that gap.”
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