Jesse Gordon
2005 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
Cornerstone Cohousing
189 Harvey St.
N. Cambridge 02140

Contact information:
Tel: 617-320-6989

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Jesse Gordon
1770 Mass Ave #630
Cambridge MA 02140

  • Jesse Gordon is a resident of North Cambridge, and is the father of a 7-year-old son. Jesse resides in Cornerstone Co-Housing 

  • Jesse was born in New York City and raised in New Jersey. His family resided for a time on a kibbutz in Israel. He moved to Massachusetts to attend Brandeis University and has lived in the Boston Metro area ever since.

  • In high school, Jesse was awarded a National Merit Scholarship to attend Brandeis University. In college, Jesse received Bachelor of Arts degrees in General Science and Biology at Brandeis in 1984. He also attended Boston University and Fairleigh Dickinson University (N.J.) working towards a Master of Arts in Teaching degree part-time. Jesse returned to graduate school full-time at the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and received a Master in Public Policy degree, focusing on Environment and Development, in 1994.

  • Jesse ran an independent computer consultancy, Kessel SoftWares International, in the 1980s and early 1990s. He worked with numerous small businesses in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, assisting the owners with their accounting and managerial needs. His longest-term client was NEC America, the export branch of a large Japanese electronics manufacturing firm. Jesse’s work with NEC took him to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, and London, where he established the communication systems for the NEC export branches.

  • Jesse took the time while working abroad to travel extensively, primarily in East Asia and Europe. He has presented lectures about his travels in Nigeria, Brazil, Pakistan, and China at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Jesse has family in Denmark and Finland, and speaks a smattering of numerous languages.

  • In 1984, Jesse helped his father build his dream home, a geodesic dome in upstate New York. Jesse, along with his brother and father, spent about a year on construction. Jesse applied his construction skills to rehabbing several other homes, including purchasing two homes, a single-family home in Waltham and a two-family home in Nashua NH. Jesse also designed and built, with a group of friends, a 2-story cabin on 13 wooded acres, plus a 60-foot bridge spanning the Tsatsawassa Creek, in the New York Berkshires.

  • Jesse moved to Cambridge in 1992 to attend Harvard. After graduating, he worked for some time in Arkansas, co-founding the Buffalo River Stewardship Foundation, an environmental organization focused on America’s first National River. Jesse authored several studies on river issues, from a study on rural watershed groups for NAFTA’s Environmental Commission in 1998, to the North Coastal Watershed Action Plan for Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Environmental Affairs in 2004.

  • Jesse’s political experience began in earnest in 1999, when he founded, a website which catalogued the presidential candidates’ views on the issues. The website garnered eight million viewers during the election cycle and was favorably reviewed in publications ranging from Rolling Stone magazine to The Wall Street Journal. The VoteMatch political matching quiz, taken by over 2 million people, is affiliated with the Speakout Foundation, a non-profit corporation. The website has expanded, as, to include coverage of Senate races, House incumbents, and political celebrities. Jesse attended the 2004 Democratic National Convention with a “blogger press pass” in his capacity as editor of the Speakout Forum. Jesse passionately believes that voting should be based on candidates’ issue stances, and just as passionately believes that neither candidates nor the mainstream media do an adequate job of reporting on issue stances.

  • Jesse served as the Technology Director for the Reich for Governor campaign in 2001-2002. He oversaw the email campaign, the website, the database, the website’s Spanish translation, and the large volunteer crew for all of those -- which was credited with Reich’s overcoming the odds against an outsider candidate getting through the Democratic Convention process. Jesse has applied the “cyber-campaign” techniques developed during the Reich campaign to state rep races for Avi Green in East Cambridge, Carl Sciortino in Somerville, and Monica Palacios-Boyce in Central Massachusetts.

  • In 2003, Jesse co-founded Mass For Dean, the grassroots organization supporting Howard Dean in the Democratic primary. The organization grew to 6,000 members and is evolving into a force for reform in the Democratic Party locally and statewide. Jesse has worked for several years on reform efforts within the Massachusetts Democratic Party, serving as a member of the Cambridge Democratic City Committee and on numerous party commissions. His current work on the Mass Scorecard, which publicizes the voting records of the Massachusetts state legislature, was passed at the 2003 Democratic state convention.

  • Jesse’s son, Julien Andrè Gordon, nicknamed Kessel, was born on May 2, 1997, at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. Kessel attends the Cambridge Friends School, where he is in the second grade. Kessel enjoys guitar playing and bicycle riding, for which he abandoned his training wheels last autumn. Kessel and his dad performed together as Storm Troopers in the North Cambridge Family Opera’s rendition of “Space Opera”. They are members of Temple Beth Shalom. Kessel is planning several road trips with his dad, who so far has resisted renting a recreational vehicle for the purpose.

Top Priorities:

Quality of Life and Public Safety:
I support a “livable Cambridge.” Livability means focusing development on open space and alternative transportation. Development is literally changing the landscape of Cambridge. The city should guide development so that people come first.

Right now, the city’s development plans focus on traffic and parking. I want to shift the focus from the needs of cars to the needs of people. Sure, most of us are motorists sometimes - but most of the others, we are pedestrians, bicyclists, and T-riders, and we just want to take our kids to the park. We must balance all of those needs.

I want to see mixed-use development in all large-scale projects. Developers should be required to plan for some affordable housing, some market priced housing, and some small businesses on the ground floor when appropriate. We need stores on streets like north Mass Ave so it becomes a real neighborhood center where people can walk to shopping and parks. Areas like Kendall need residences so they don’t become deserted after dark.

A diversity of housing allows a diversity of people to find homes appropriate for their family and appropriate for their budget. That kind of mix is what creates a vibrant community.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:

Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
What should a city do in response to an unfair tax? Greenwich Connecticut knows. When the same sort of tax increase hit Greenwich, the Greenwich Selectmen listened to the people and found a way to make their taxes fair. They heard the people saying the property tax increase was fundamentally flawed; they repealed the tax increase; reassessed every home; changed the underlying problems with state law; and ended up with a fairer tax.

In Cambridge, we had no public meeting. The city council simply let an unfair burden on over 4,000 Cambridge homeowners and over 10,000 renters pass them by. This tax increase hit our neighborhoods like a bomb - doing a lot of damage with little warning. I am calling for its repeal.

When asked about applying the Greenwich model to defuse the Cambridge property tax bomb, our city’s assessor said Greenwich’s situation was correcting a fundamentally flawed system. I agree. But Cambridge’s City Council is only willing to tweek the current tax system, not to correct the problems. Cambridge’s tax model is just as fundamentally flawed - and I think we should follow Greenwich’s model to correct the fundamental flaws.

I do not want to shift the burden to condominiums - an additional unfair tax increase doesn’t solve the problem, nor do any others of the City Council’s proposed solutions. The tax burden should not be switched to anyone - the property tax increase can be undone by a one-time reduction in a large surplus. I don’t want to shift the tax burden around - I want to REMOVE the source of the unfairness to begin with.

You can explore the tax increase at my tax calculator website - I’ll keep you posted there on the city’s latest plans for next year’s property tax.

Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
I support transit-oriented development - high density near transportation hubs. The Concord/Alewife development near Alewife station may bring in 5,000 new residents. And the North Point development near Lechmere Station may bring in 10,000 new residents. We might ask, “Where are all those cars going?” but a better question is, “How can we improve the T, so the need for cars isn’t as great?”

We can address traffic concerns by providing real incentives to use the T - payments for T passes and T infrastructure. We can fund these by linking the costs to the development - with high-density building comes fees for alternative transportation.

The same linkage should apply to open space funding. We need open space at Concord/Alewife because it’s a floodplain. Let’s link funding for open space so we GET open space rather than just HOPE for open space.

And what should new open space look like? Fancy equipment and high-tech parks are nice - but the best park is one that’s near home.

  • I support numerous small “pocket parks” around the city.
  • I support dog parks with enclosed fencing.
  • I support a swimmable and fishable Charles River by 2020.

Development and growth in Cambridge are inevitable. I don’t want to BLOCK development; I want to GUIDE development, to make our lives better and our community safer.

Human Services Programs:

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
We have a very good healthcare program in our Cambridge Health Alliance, but eligibility is restricted. I would like to see Cambridge expand the availability of healthcare within this program.

We have three good programs in Cambridge that have created affordable housing. But all three programs could be more fully used.

  • The Affordable Housing Trust has been under-funded since its inception. We need to maintain the existing funding for this program and seek additional funding from the state and other sources.

  • “Inclusionary zoning” says that 15% of units in all large developments be earmarked as affordable units. But “incentive zoning” overrules the 15% provision in favor of incentives for developers. I don’t think developers need special additional incentives to build in Cambridge. I will fight for - and vote for - development projects with inclusionary zoning to preserve the vibrancy and diversity of Cambridge.

  • Cambridge allows seniors to defer property tax payments until the property is transferred, so they can remain in their homes. I would like to extend this program to anyone in need, permitting homeowners to pay their taxes at the time of sale. The City Council proposed in July to extend the age downward a few years. I will fight so that no one - of any age - is driven out of Cambridge because of an inability to meet their annual tax bill.

Our city government reassessed all Cambridge homes this year, and many homeowners were caught by surprise by huge tax increases. This reassessment was unfair, disrespectful, and unnecessary. I will fight to repeal the property tax increase and replace it with a fair and respectful tax. Then we can get back to the more long-term solutions for affordable housing.

The property tax increase is UNFAIR - it hit moderate-priced homes more than high-priced homes. It hurt people on fixed incomes, low-income renters, and moderate-income owners of 2-family and 3-family homes.

It is also DISRESPECTFUL - most people found out only upon opening their property tax bill. “Policy by heart attack” is uncivilized.

And it is UNNECESSARY - it adds $8 million to a $35 million surplus - it’s fiscally irresponsible to raise taxes when we don’t to. The surplus is sitting in a bank account, unused, while our neighbors are being forced to raise the rent, or convert to condominiums, or move out of Cambridge. It just doesn’t make economic sense.

Arts and Public Celebrations:

University Relations:
Cambridge needs liaisons to other city governments and community institutions, including our universities. I’ve done this for several years now with numerous progressive organizations, and as a result progressive groups are more successful when working on joint actions.

Cambridge needs someone who attends Somerville Board of Alderman meetings so we can work together on the many issues that affect both our cities, like parking issues and development along the border. There are other projects with Boston, about the Mass Pike exit; and with Belmont, about bike paths from Alewife. Too often I see our city officials draw a big black line at the city borders and pretend that nothing exists beyond it. We can have better development and better transportation by partnering with our neighbors.

Cambridge also needs to talk regularly to the DCR (the state parks commission, which used to be called the MDC) about Memorial Drive and Fresh Pond - which are DCR-run properties. And the same for the MBTA, so we can include the T in development plans. I want to be the T’s best friend and the “go-to guy” on City Council, by working together with bulk purchases of T-passes, improving T infrastructure and ridership in Cambridge.

Cambridge also needs to tap a resource of brilliance in the credited and renowned universities in the area. Too often we find ourselves in a “town vs. gown” situation, when we should be cooperating to improve life in the city for both students and residents.

Civic Participation:
The one thing I hear most often from residents all across Cambridge is that the city government doesn’t listen to them. As City Councilor, I will write a “Citizen’s Manual for Cambridge” to help people be heard by city government, so people can guide development in their neighborhoods.

I propose a booklet similar to a primer I wrote about the Democratic Party in Massachusetts-another institution whose process is little understood by the people it purports to serve - you can see it at We need printed guides in plain English about the real ways to get things done.

I led the fight which passed the “Accountability Amendment” at the 2003 State Democratic Convention. With the help of several Progressive Democrat groups, I publish voting records for every Massachusetts legislator, along with a plain-English explanation of what each vote means - now we have accountability online at

The City Council says in their “Goals of the City Council for 2004” that they would like to provide information to voters via the internet. But the city website doesn’t show how City Councilors voted, or even what issues they voted on. As City Councilor I will change that, and fight for establishing a Scorecard at the municipal level for all our citizens.

Cambridge Public Schools:
A few years ago, I was thinking about where to send my son to school. He’s now 8 years old and entering the third grade at Cambridge Friends School. But CFS is not listed anywhere on the Cambridge city website, and neither are the charter schools or the parochial schools. Now, I understand there are good reasons why the city cannot support non-public schools - but we should provide INFORMATION about them. The city should have a list of ALL of the schools in Cambridge, so parents and students can make a better-informed decision. My new flyer addresses exactly that – you can find it online at

Cambridge is where we put the dot into dot-com. We should extend our leadership position to people on other side of the digital divide. We should keep computers available in every library, every school, and at every youth center, and keep those places open on evenings and weekends. We should establish municipal free Internet connection – starting with the Mass. Ave. corridor in partnership with universities and businesses.

Much of our city’s diversity derives from two large groups, students and immigrants. Both groups – and other minorities too – are often excluded from political consideration because their voting rates are low. We have on the books a rule to allow 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections – so they could acquire good voting habits as young adults. We also have on the books a rule to allow immigrants to vote in municipal elections – so they can vote for the people who run their children’s schools.

But neither program has been implemented. Programs like these encourage political participation by under-represented groups – I will fight to implement good city programs like these.

I see our city at a turning point. The choices we make in the next several years will determine how our children and grandchildren live here for the next several decades. I believe Cambridge needs a City Council that will get things done for you to make Cambridge the vital city and progressive model we all know it can be. I believe that I am best equipped to fight for the people of Cambridge.

I need 2,500 votes - and your #1 vote! - To earn a seat on the City Council so that I can work to accomplish the vision I’ve laid out. With your help, I can get it done. Thank you for your support.

You can fight for a better Cambridge by voting Jesse Gordon #1 this November 8th. It’s not so far away. If you want a reminder, you can talk to me or my campaign staff and we’ll make sure you know when it’s time to vote. You can help out in other ways too:

  • Donate using the form on the back cover
  • Put up a yard sign
  • Volunteer by calling or writing us an email
  • Tell your friends about Jesse
  • Send Jesse a list of your friends to call
  • Visit our campaign HQ at 133 Mt Auburn Street (at the corner of Hilliard Street in Harvard Square)
Page last updated October 02, 2006 Cambridge Candidates