About Our Campaign
Candidate for State Senate
Our extended community of the Second Middlesex district, including Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, and Winchester, could just be the best place in the world to live. We enjoy a long, rich history and also represent the future both economically and culturally. It's why my wife and I decided to settle down and raise our children here.
For all that promise, we still face incredible challenges - a Green Line they're threatening to let fall off the tracks, a housing market that’s pricing people out, underfunded school systems that continue to delay the promise of early education, an innovation economy that remains inaccessible to many, an environment in peril, and a government that all too often puts the interests of big business over those of small families like ours.
We have an opportunity to join together and demand that our government make the choices necessary, and take action now, to address those challenges head on. I know it's possible because I've seen that spirit succeed over the past six years that I've served on the the Cambridge City Council.
It's been an incredible honor to serve as a City Councillor in the place my father first called home, when he immigrated to our country. I didn't think I was going to win that first race - challenging the incumbent status quo. Countless people asked why I didn't wait my turn, or put my degrees in business and politics to work in the private sector. My parents taught me that the deepest value of education isn't to enrich yourself, but to enrich your community.
When I won I was thrilled to put my experiences in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to work improving the lives of residents on issues big and small. Improving government transparency by introducing Participatory Budgeting, which allows residents to submit proposals and vote directly on how our city spends money. Addressing housing head on by increasing the amount of affordable units we're building. Fighting for local retail and vibrant main streets. Bringing taxpayer dollars back from a big overseas bank to a local community bank. And after Governor Patrick appointed me to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, investing in a public broadband network I'd like to stretch across our Commonwealth.
As your State Senator I'll never shy away from bold solutions to addressing our challenges, even if it means upsetting the establishment. I'll remain committed to progressive and innovative leadership that reflects our communities. I'll listen to your suggestions, criticism, and ideas, as I continue to publicly post my personal cell phone number.
We deserve representation that reflects our priorities, is in touch with tomorrow, and brings a sense of urgency to the challenges we're tackling today. Join us, and let's make progress together.
On The Issues
Making Progress A Reality.
Green Line Extension
Public transportation is a necessity, for our economy, for our environment, and for our communities. It's the backbone of equality that gives residents access to opportunity. Unfortunately, the politics-as-usual approach on Beacon Hill has failed to strengthen or even maintain our transportation infrastructure. Our highways are degrading and MBTA services are unreliable; however, the unrelenting showcase of this failure is the current state of the Green Line Extension.
In a Commonwealth that hosts the greatest marathon in the world, a quarter century to go four miles is pretty embarrassing. We've seen children grow up, become activists themselves, and bring their own children to meetings to hear the same empty promises. Instead of asking residents to accept a bare-bones proposal, the state should be asking contractors to open up their books and show us how much their profiting at our expense. We need more legislative engagement and oversight on the project to keep it on track. We need rules that prohibit contractors from policing themselves. We cannot afford any more surprises.
Addressing Our Housing Crisis
Leland has served as a leading voice for the expansion and preservation of existing middle-income, student, and low-income housing on the Cambridge City Council. He understands that it’s better to invest in people and keep them in their homes than to push our neighbors out of town or to the streets.
However, the reality is that our shared housing crisis is regional. We need solutions from the state that don't pit communities against each other. We need policies in place so that city leaders aren't forced to wager between asking developers to create more housing and seeing those developers decide to build across city lines. We need strong guidelines, like we have for safety and environmental sustainability, that don't put cities in competition with each other.
It's time to convene stakeholders from across the district and create lasting solutions that keep our cities and towns affordable for all of our residents.
Local Economy and Jobs with Justice
Locally-owned businesses contribute immensely to their our district’s economy. As someone who practically grew up in his mother's small business (a bakery) Leland has seen firsthand how investing in vibrant, walk-able city centers can benefit an entire community. While many in government propose massive corporate tax breaks to attract jobs, we are much better off investing in education and infrastructure. That's who we attract and grow companies that create not just jobs, but careers.
Leland also knows that there is no such thing as an economy without people. Whether working in the community or shopping at a local institution, our daily choices have long term impact. While on the City Council, Leland was endorsed by dozens of unions for his work fighting for fair wages, safe working conditions, the right to organize, adequate paid sick leave, and gender-neutral parental leave to all employees.
Our nation is seeing a shift in its workforce. As baby boomers retire, we need creative problem-solvers prepared to take their place, which means enhancing our focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM). With his background in science and engineering, Leland knows it’s won’t be enough simply to hire STEAM coordinators or build STEAM centers; we need a STEAM culture. The future of our communities are our children, and the more we invest today the better off we'll be tomorrow.
Leland has been at the forefront of calling for divestment from fossil fuels. He has charged forward with environmentally sustainable building practices - from Net Zero to transit oriented development. Leland has spearheaded dialogue on the City Council to align consumer behavior with environmental priorities. He also bikes and drives an electric car to avoid buying gas.
Prior to joining the Cambridge City Council, Leland worked as part of the founding team of ARPA-E, the branch of the US Department of Energy created by President Obama to serve as its 'venture' arm, investing in companies and cutting edge technologies to reduce America's carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. While there, he saw how many clean-tech innovations were coming out of Massachusetts; however, he also saw the difficulties they faced in navigating through bureaucracy to implementation. That’s why Leland wants to create a clean technology platform to enable startup companies to easily plug in, add renewables to our grid, and receive a set rate without going through years of negotiations with utilities' lawyers.
Leland is forward focused and understands that we have no future if we have no home. We can't make decisions based solely on today's economics if we want to safeguard tomorrow's environment.
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Today’s economy is evolving faster than ever before. New technologies are enabling young companies to shake up generations-old industries. When done right, this provides better, less expensive services to more people. When done wrong, it decimates neighborhoods and pushes people towards poverty. We can ensure that the increase in innovation and entrepreneurship benefits everyone in our community - consumers and employees alike.
If you’ve ever tried to start your own business, you know it’s not easy. Starting a business shouldn't require a degree in public policy to navigate an overly complicated bureaucracy. In Cambridge, Leland has led the way towards streamlining licensing and leveling the playing field. He will continue to fight against archaic laws that hinder job growth.
Technology is continually reshaping our economy, and the pace of change is only going to increase. Leland understands this better than most politicians because it's the world he comes from. We need leaders in touch with tomorrow to ensure the benefits don't all accrue to the elite few.
Massachusetts has a long history of leading the nation in education policy. We built the first public school, as well as the first university, and mandated all children learn to read and write practically from the moment they immigrated. And yet, despite our commitment to quality education, our ability to deliver results seems to have faltered at the same time international economic pressures have challenged us most.
Leland believes that every child has a right to quality public education that puts them on a path to compete worldwide. Their future depends on our investments in them now - matching every advantage every advanced nation is giving their children. That includes early education, STEM throughout school, college that doesn't leave students in debt, continuing education that retools adults as technology changes, and more.
It is absolutely clear that we must start early. Early education has been proven to be the best investment, for our incremental tax dollar, to eliminate the achievement gap. Early childhood education as a privilege for the elite. We must provide equitable opportunities for parents that are struggling to make ends meet, not simply just because it'll be good for the economy, but because it is just. Period.
These aren't unique perspectives; however, having a little girl about to enter school for the first time gives Leland a sense of urgency that's been lacking on Beacon Hill. Every year we take to debate is another year's worth of students who won't have access to programs with proven importance. If you're tired of waiting, know that Leland is too.
The Beacon Hill establishment is going to throw everything they have at us.
Donate today and help us build a campaign that will represent our communities.