Boston DSA member Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler placed fifth out of 22 candidates, winning a seat on Cambridge City Council by a comfortable margin. (The election used ranked-choice voting, and the top nine vote getters won.) A tenant organizer and renter, he ran on a platform of tenants’ rights, rent control, fare-free public transit, municipal broadband, and free, in-state higher ed tuition for public school graduates, financed by contributions from MIT and Harvard. Fellow Boston DSA member Zac Bears also won election—to city council in nearby Medford, Massachusetts, placing fifth in a 14-way race for seven seats.
Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, a Cambridge renter and tenants’ rights organizer who works with environmental programs at a land-policy think tank based in Cambridge, announced he is running for Cambridge City Council.
“Cambridge is rapidly changing -- rents and housing prices are skyrocketing, and we’re swiftly losing our urban tree canopy. We need our city councilors to ask: ‘Who are we developing for?’ And we need to make sure the answer is the middle- and working-class residents who are at risk of displacement due to housing costs, whether they’re long-time Cantabrigians or newer arrivals. I think our city government has been too passive, hoping the market and for-profit corporate developers will solve our problems for us. I want to bring my expertise and experience in land policy and organizing to the City Council so we can fight for real housing justice in Cambridge that stabilizes rents in our community and doesn’t leave behind working-class homeowners,” said Sobrinho-Wheeler.
“I’ve gotten to know Jivan through his work as an organizer and advocate for affordable housing and tenant protections here in Cambridge,” said Rep. Mike Connolly, who represents Cambridge in the Massachusetts legislature. “I’m excited that he’s running for city council because I believe he’ll be a compelling voice for housing justice and our middle and working-class communities who are facing continued displacement.”
Part of Sobrinho-Wheeler’s commitment to economic justice comes from his own experience. After his parents divorced, he spent part of his childhood in subsidized housing and was enrolled in CHIP, the children’s version of Medicaid, for health insurance.
“I also will be pushing for a Cambridge Green New Deal,” said Sobrinho-Wheeler, “to ensure we’re doing as much as we can to fight climate change in a way that addresses economic inequality and racial equity. I want to see Cambridge lead the nation in tackling the related crises of climate change and inequality at the local level by improving public transit and making buses and subways free for Cambridge residents, meeting our Net Zero emissions targets and building out the full Cambridge Bicycle Plan with 20 miles of protected bike lanes.”
Sobrinho-Wheeler will refuse donations from real-estate developers, fossil fuel company employees and corporate PACs in his campaign.