It was with great honor and pride that I was officially sworn into office as Alderman-at-large of the great city of Somerville on New Year’s Day! I am both humbled and excited about the opportunity to serve the city that I love. You have my promise that I will work hard to understand all of the issues and challenges affecting the city, and that I will always put the community first in every decision I make as your alderman. I am excited by all of the new faces on the board, and think we have a lot that we can achieve working together.
News and Updates:1) Mayor’s Inaugural Address:
I was very encouraged by what I heard from Mayor Curtatone during his inaugural address. The mayor laid out a 10 point plan to help with housing and affordability in Somerville and called for bold action. Many of the ideas that the mayor called for were ones I championed on the campaign trail: Community Land Trusts, a Real Estate Transfer Tax, and the Right of First Refusal/Right to Purchase for Tenants. I encourage you to read the full speech for yourself here https://www.somervillema.gov/inaugural2018. I will be excited to see what we can accomplish together on some of these bold initiatives. Somerville needs forward thinking action on issues of housing and affordability.
2) A Call to Action: Make a Phone Call For Tenant’s Right to Purchase
Please consider picking up the phone to call the chairs of the State Housing Committee to support Rep. Denise Provost’s bill “An Act to Preserve Affordable Housing Through a Local Option Tenant’s Right to Purchase.” The legislation, also co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Connolly, gives the state the power to grant municipalities like Somerville the authority to begin exploring Tenant’s Right to Purchase and Community Housing Trust Funds that financially support those tenants. If you are unfamiliar with Tenant’s Right to Purchase, it grant tenants of residential buildings with three or more units the right of first refusal to purchase such buildings at fair market value if they are being sold. This keeps rents lower and allows local community members to stay and avoid displacement. They collectively finance the building with 5% down payment and possible support from a city housing trust fund. See the flyer below for more details on how you can get involved with this important cause.
I am happy to announce I will serve on the following committees:
Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel
Licenses and Permits (Vice Chairman)
Traffic and Parking
Open Space, Environment, and Energy (Chairman)
Flood Forum (Special Committee)
I look forward to bringing my experience and background in environmental science to my first chairmanship on the Open Space, Environment, and Energy committee.
4) Union Square Neighborhood Council
Community elections were held for the first ever Union Square Neighborhood Council. The council will represent the people of the community as they negotiate with the city and the developer responsible for the Union Square project, US2. Congratulations to all of those that won a seat! I believe this model of a democratically elected board from the community that gets to play a role in shaping the development of their community has great promise. Community-led development is a must for Somerville moving forward.
5) First Board of Alderman Meeting: Thursday, January 11th.
I am excited for my first BOA official meeting this Thursday. I have already submitted a board order together with Alderman Stephanie Hirsch that the Director of SPCD report to the board on what he is doing to preserve minority-owned businesses in the city. I look forward to hearing the findings and will take appropriate action to preserve the diversity in our business communities that makes Somerville so great.
The meeting will stream live on the internet, and will be stored online, in a searchable format, at the City of Somerville’s Board of Aldermen’s meeting portal, http://somervillecityma.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx.
I am learning fast about all of the roles and responsibilities of an alderman, and I am excited by this opportunity.
Look for an update on a Housing Data Hackathon being co-hosted by myself and Alderman Stephanie Hirsch to explore housing data in Somerville and envision possible creative solutions.
Please share my email newsletter with friends and neighbors, and ask them to sign up (email me at email@example.com) and hold me accountable on my campaign promises!
Your Public Servant,
Alderman-At-Large Will Mbah