Leland Cheung

Leland Cheung
2009 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
101 Hampshire St.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact information:
Tel: 617-752-1521
website: www.lelandcheung.com
e-mail: leland@electleland.org
Facebook page

Send contributions to:
Committee To Elect Leland Cheung
101 Hampshire Street, #1
Cambridge, MA 02139


Why I'm Running:
My name is Leland Cheung, when my parents immigrated to the United States the first place they lived was in Harvard Square. Although we moved around a lot as a kid as my parents followed work and opportunity in effort to provide for their kids, they always talked about the community and connection present in the city of Cambridge that first took them in. We didn't have much in those days Ė my parents moved to this country with only debt and a dream and the struggles they faced took a toll on me even as a child. Times got better for my family as my parents were able to find higher paying work and provide more for their kids, but the trials we went through instilled in me a deep appreciation for this country, the communities that took us in, and the opportunity we were given.

I am drawn towards public service because I believe nobody should have to work 18 hour days to provide for their family. I believe in the social programs and support Cambridge provides lower income residents, but I don't believe that's an excuse for not focusing on creating jobs and opportunity. I've seen my family's life transformed through the opportunity for good work and the supportive community that American provides. Thatís why I believe itís government responsibility to invest in lifting people up. I'm running for Cambridge City Council because we have resources at our disposal to do that, but we aren't using them to the full extent we can. In these difficult times, Cambridge needs to use everything it's got to keep people above water and provide honest, high-paying work for its young adults.

Leland's Platform
I was excited to return to Cambridge as an adult, but I find myself living in a city my parents could ill have afforded to live in, had they been immigrating today. I love living here, but I think there's room for improvement. Specifically, having worked and lived in Cambridge before returning to school last year to pursue graduate degrees from MIT and Harvard, I know that Cambridge is missing many opportunities to leverage the resources in our backyard to enrich the community and create jobs for residents.

Overall, Cambridge is a fantastic place to live. While other cities are cutting back services, Cambridge is building a new library and high school for its residents. But even though Cambridge as a whole has it good, there are a lot of people in our city who are struggling to make ends meet. We've seen the number of middle class in Cambridge decrease, and that's not good for anyone. In these tough times, we need to be fiscally prudent and invest in creating opportunity for our residents to stay above water.

If elected, I will bring passion and a sense of urgency to the initiatives currently being discussed in City Hall around education, support for our kids, aging in place, reinvestment in the community, and more. As a tax-paying homeowner and a tuition-paying student, I will run point on opening University resources to the community. I'll work hard on making Cambridge a better place to live for all residents; a model community for the rest of America.

But my main focus will be to create jobs and opportunity here in Cambridge by using my experience as an entrepreneur, as an investor building small companies into large ones, and as a member of the new agency in the Department of Energy created by Obama to invest in the companies and technology that will lead America towards a greener economy.

You voted last year for someone who saw possibility and promise in America; why settle for incumbents who have grown comfortable with the status quo? Vote November 3rd for a fresh face that will fight for you! Vote November 3rd for someone who will push the ball forward to make your life better and tackle Cambridge's challenges.

Leland Cheung has a plan for the future:

  1. Create Jobs in Cambridge - New companies are the largest drivers of new job growth in a recession. As someone who worked at the Department of Energy and as a venture capitalist building companies, I'll help keep the green jobs that entrepreneurs are creating here in Cambridge. We'll make Cambridge America's Hub for Innovation, and help all our residents get trained for the green economy.
  2. Improve Schools & Keep Kids Safe - Cambridge schools offer so many programs and services that we should top the rankings; I'll work with the school committee to take a holistic view of the problem and figure out solutions that look at a child's complete life.
  3. Make Cambridge Affordable for those that work here to live here - Continuing to build affordable housing in one part of town doesn't solve the underlying problem; affordable housing doesn't solve the challenge people face working 18 hour days just to feed and clothe their kids. I'll work with the universities and corporations in Cambridge to lift all our residents up and provide opportunity.
  4. Open University Resources to Residents - Other councilors have talked about improving university relations in the past; as the first current student (who was first and foremost a home-owning resident) I will use my unique status to open university resources to the community.
  5. Make City Hall Honest & Accountable - I believe in transparent and responsive government. A decade in this century, everything should be online and easily accessible. From online interactive town halls to a 311 system to report problems directly to the DPW, I'll work to make Cambridge a model community. I also promise to always answer your call, and if I can't, to return it promptly.

Please vote Leland Cheung #1 for Cambridge City Council on November 3rd and I'll fight to make Cambridge #1.

As your City Councilor, I will be accountable and responsive to you. My personal cell phone number is (617) 752-1521 so we can continue this conversation at your convenience. You can also visit my website at http://ElectLeland.org for more of my ideas on how together we can make Cambridge the best place to live in America.

Other Candidates will ask you to vote them #1.
I'm asking you to help me make Cambridge #1.

Creating Jobs by Supporting Local Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Small businesses are a vital part to any city's economy, and Cambridge should work to promote local entrepreneurs and innovators to stay within the city. They are an integral part to our economy and give character to the community.

City Hall should encourage their growth and development by:

  • Creating affordable office space. Real estate in Cambridge is at a premium and often times companies are faced with the decision to relocate to find more affordable office space.
  • Encouraging the participation of entrepreneurs and innovators in the community. Too often the hard work of small businesses goes unnoticed, and the best way to acknowledge achievements is to know about them. By participating in the community, the small businesses gain exposure and residents become aware of their services and products. The city should also foster an entrepreneurial community in which innovators and entrepreneurs can come together to exchange ideas. Instead of attempting to create a new group, the city should work with existing groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Cambridge Local First to encourage and support small business.
  • Encouraging buying local. Buying local supports small business and keeps our money in the community. In this economic climate, every little bit supporting the community helps.

Quality of Life and Public Safety:
Making Cambridge a safe and enjoyable place to live is a priority and by addressing public safety concerns, it makes Cambridge better for residents and visitors.

The key to addressing safety in the community is:

  • Keeping officers in the areas that they know best. By keeping officers in a familiar area, they not only know what is normal in the community, but the residents get to know the officers. Also, by keeping officers in the same areas and expanding the Neighborhood Sergeants Program, there is a greater potential for residents to positively interact with the police force.
  • Increasing communications and coordination with university police. By increasing communications and coordination with the universities, it will make not only campuses safer, but the areas surrounding them safer.
  • Re-evaluating the locations of fire stations and response times. Over time, Cambridge has changed, and in order to have optimum response times, the locations of fire stations should be evaluated.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
For many living and working in Cambridge, transportation is an issue. Streets are often crowded and occasionally dangerous and the city needs to address those issues.

Key to easing transportation issues in Cambridge is:

  • A bike-sharing program. By bringing in a bike sharing program, it promotes a healthier lifestyle as well as a commitment to environmentally-friendly endeavors.
  • Addressing bike lanes. Often bikers in Cambridge are faced with the dilemma of taking their lives into their own hands as they battle vehicles on the road. By evaluating highly traveled routes for bike lanes, it increases bicycle safety and more people would be willing to ride if they can be safer.
  • Pressuring the MBTA for greater access, re-evaluation of routes. As the MBTA re-evaluates its services, Cambridge can and should pressure for greater access and a re-evaluation of its routes.

Municipal Finance:
In this economic climate, one of the smartest moves that Cambridge can make is to re-evaluate its spending and its priorities. While there are many projects that would add to the community, there has to be a balance between what is necessary and what can be temporarily put on hold.

Cambridge can become more fiscally responsible by:

  • Evaluating the budget and reigning in budget excesses. By evaluating the budget and reigning in budget excesses, it creates a more efficient government, reduces redundancy and allows for greater transparency.
  • Building the commercial tax base. By increasing the commercial tax base, it brings more revenue into the city as well as encourages residents to buy local.
  • Re-evaluating how the city council receives raises. The city council is responsible to the city government and the citizens themselves, and their raises should reflect the fiscal realities as well as their job responsibilities.

Human Services Programs:
Often community services and educational programs are not as well known as they should be and the city should be an important partner in aiding community services and promoting public education.

Cambridge can aid community service providers by:

  • Increasing access to information about public services. Often those in need of services have no idea where to find the information. With the city making the information available, it aids not only the citizens looking for service but helps the services by having their information reach a greater number of people.
  • Helping to identify those in need. Many providers do not have the resources to locate individuals in need of assistance, but with the help of the city, more can be reached
  • Working with schools to make information more available to the community. By working with schools to make information available, it reaches a large part of the population. Parents become aware of community events and services and it reiterates Cambridge's commitment to public education.

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
Often urban environments are not conducive to building a community, but by placing emphasis on parks and open space, the urban obstacles can be overcome and foster a sense of community.

Cambridge can utilize parks and green space by:

  • Supporting community building events. Parks are natural gathering places, and by encouraging community events in the parks, residents get to know each other and the areas surrounding them.
  • Re-evaluating park spending and funding. Often parks are lost in the shuffle when funds are being dispersed. Since they are such an integral part of communities, the city should evaluate funding and ensure that they are not only being maintained, but are safe and accessible.
  • Installing Public wi-fi and tables in parks. By installing wi-fi and tables in parks, it makes the parks a destination. Students can utilize the parks to study and professionals can enjoy an afternoon in the sun while they work.
  • Increased community gardens. Since Cambridge is an urban community, land is at a premium and a large number of residents do not have yards. By increasing the number of community gardens, it can help to address environmental issues, promote healthier lifestyles and give citizens a sense of ownership in the community.

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
Often the best way to encourage is to lead by example. The Cambridge has not only the ability to encourage citizens to become more environmentally conscious, but local innovators and entrepreneurs can be utilized to address current issues.

Cambridge can address energy and the environment by:

  • Passing stretch codes. By passing stretch codes, the city strives to increase energy efficiency and decrease consumption.
  • Striving for LEED Gold. By striving for a high LEED certification, it not only shows commitment to environmental sustainability, but it allows for new innovation in existing technologies to be implemented.
  • Thinking beyond Cambridge to work towards solving the general energy crisis. By thinking beyond Cambridge, it can help to strengthen the relationships with neighboring communities as well as challenge those capable of solving the problem.
  • Looking into the development of charging stations for electric vehicles. By exploring the possibilities of electric vehicle charging stations, it opens up the possibility for residents to realistically use electric scooters and cars.
  • Changing the zoning and building codes to reflect environmentally-friendly standards. By having zoning and building codes reflect environmentally-friendly standards, it not only shows a commitment to the environment but it shows that Cambridge is setting an example for its residents.

Housing, Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density:
The key is Responsible Development. Chief to making Cambridge a great community to live in, it must be realistically affordable for people to reside. As Cambridge went through phases of development, many affordable housing options disappeared, leaving people to either move somewhere else or pay more.

The housing issues in Cambridge cannot be addressed by the City Council alone and should:

  • Work with developers. Most of the development in Cambridge is done by private companies which often view the city as a hindrance to their development. By working with the developers, it can set expectations and manage growth. Also, by working with developers, progress towards making more Cambridge more affordable can be achieved. By working with developers, it can also help to reduce the pressure on the Cambridge Housing Authority and other public housing programs.
  • Look at long-term goals and plans. By setting in motion long-term goals and plans, Cambridge can more effectively manage its redevelopment and ensure that areas are not being neglected.
  • Re-evaluate zoning and building codes. Re-evaluating zoning and building codes can aid in ensuring more affordable housing as well as allowing renovation to existing properties. Also, the difficulties in renovating historic homes should be re-evaluated but should not undermine the basic principle of historic preservation.

University Relations:
University students strive to make a difference whether it is in art, commerce, or government and Cambridge has the unique opportunity to have their resources for a short period of time. By encouraging students to get involved within the community, they not only gain the valuable experience of putting their education into practice, but by also giving them a stake in the community. Cambridge needs a way to easily connect student volunteers to opportunities in the community with non-profits and within the city government.

Vital to increasing cooperation, communication and involvement are:

  • The creation of a program to bring university and college students into the community to volunteer. Civic involvement isn't something that happens automatically, there must be opportunities present and by creating access to the information, participation can increase. A database linked from the universities and city websites can connect students with volunteer opportunities in the community.
  • Creating internships with the City of Cambridge. By involving students in local government, it allows them not only opportunities but the ability to put their education into practice and they become stakeholders in the community.
  • Increasing communication between the city and universities. The universities would not be the same without Cambridge and Cambridge would not be the same without the universities. Events at one influence the other and there are many opportunities present for both to become involved. The creation of a non-voting student/university seat would help communications between the two as well as allow for opinions to be voiced on both sides.

Cambridge Public Schools:
I ran for City Council instead of School Committee because I know more about creating jobs and boosting the economy than I do about education. However, I do know we have the #1 university in America according to US News; it's time we had the #1 public school system.

I will work closely with the School Committee to make this happen:

  • Bringing up the Quality of all K-8s. Because of the large spread in quality and the lottery system, we wind up spending money on bussing that could be spent on teachers and kids.
  • Using what we learned in Charter Schools. The promise of charter schools was that we could use them as innovation labs, and take the best practices best to our public schools. The disconnect is that although charter schools have done great work, we haven't brought what we learned back to the public schools.
  • Looking at the Complete Child. With the number of programs and resources Cambridge Public Schools offers its students, we shouldn't just be #1 in public education; we should be far and away the best. We need to re-evaluate what's working and what's not, and realize that what happens outside of school is sometimes more important than what happens in it.

Civic Participation:
The Key is Creating a More Responsive and Engaging City Hall. New and old residents alike have questions for City Hall and I propose that we all do a better job of engaging each other and City Hall to answer those questions and creatively solve problems together.

City Hall can make itself more accessible, responsive and transparent by:

  • Bringing citizens into the process. In order to solve problems, City Hall must first be aware of them. By bringing back the New England tradition of town hall meetings and placing a "suggestion box" on the city's website, it not only makes the issues known, but it allows for them to be addressed.
  • Increasing information. The city website should include more information about voting and voter registration, as well as increased information about city events. By increasing information, citizens can become knowledgeable about what is happening within the community and opportunities to participate.

Also, by increasing the amount of information that is available, it creates a more accessible and transparent government, which can in turn better serve the community.

As your City Councilor, I will work hard to achieve real results on the issues you care about. I will be accountable and responsive to you. My personal cell phone number is (617) 752-1521 so we can continue this conversation at your convenience. You can also visit my website at http://ElectLeland.org for more of my ideas on how together we can make Cambridge the best place to live in America.

Other Candidates will ask you to vote them #1.
I'm asking you to help me make Cambridge #1.

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Sept 9, 2009 Candidate Forum

Page last updated November 02, 2009 Cambridge Candidates