Matt Nelson

Matt Nelson
2011 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
108 Pine Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact information:
Tel: 617-388-1204 (c)



Matt Nelson on Twitter  @mattynels1

Matt Nelson on Facebook

Send contributions to:
The Committee to Elect Matt Nelson
P.O. Box 380980
Cambridge, MA 02238

or via ActBlue at:

As a Cambridge native and a graduate of the Cambridge public schools I am excited to have the opportunity to run for Cambridge City Council and earn your #1 vote!

Over the last 6 years, I have dedicated my professional life to progressive electoral campaigns at the state and local levels and to leading grassroots campaigns working to affect change. I look forward to building on these experiences as I run as a candidate myself.

Cambridge is a unique place and has shown time and again that it truly is a model city. We are a diverse city with a history of innovation. We are the city of cooperative day care, cooperative housing and cooperative food markets. We should be a city that continues to strive for cooperative government with active voters, and policy makers who tirelessly seek out participation.

I see the role of City Councillor as both a community organizer as well as policy maker. An active citizenry is critical for responsive and effective government. As an organizer I look forward to having the opportunity to work with you as we bring our neighborhoods together to build a better Cambridge.

In a community every individual has an important role to play. My aim is to have my City Council campaign serve as a platform for broadening this sort of civic engagement. My hope is that along the way I will have earned your #1 vote.

Organizing Experience

  • State Coordinator – The Massachusetts Environmental Voters Education Fund.
  • State Coordinator – The Heat is On Campaign, a project of the League of Conservation Voters and the Mass League of Environmental Voters.
  • State Director – Healthcare United Virginia, a project of the Service Employees International Union.
  • Political and Union Organizer – Service Employees International Union and Change to Win.
  • Campaign Manager and Campaign Chair – Cambridge City Councillor Henrietta Davis.
  • Outreach and Events Coordinator – Luc Schuster, former Cambridge School Committee member.
  • Campaign Manager – Jeff Thielman, State Representative Candidate in Arlington and West Medford.
  • Campaign Manager – Gil Hoy, former Brookline Selectman.

Other Local Experience

  • Cambridge Public Schools Summer Programs – Teacher and Assistant Teacher.
  • Ranger at Fresh Pond Golf Course.
  • Manager at Tommy Doyle's Irish Pub and Restaurant in Harvard Square.


  • Masters in Public Administration, Suffolk University.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing, University of Arizona.
  • Cambridge Rindge and Latin class of 1998.

Civic Participation & Community Engagement
I see the role of City Councillor as both a community organizer as well as policy maker. An active citizenry is critical for responsive and effective government. As an organizer I look forward to having the opportunity to work with you as we bring our neighborhoods together to build a better Cambridge.

To boost voter turnout and participation in the policy making process we need to create more ways to connect to our residents.

City Councillor = Grassroots Organizer: As a City Councillor I will do everything to include all interested parties in the policy making process. I will always encourage public comment and resident participation in government. I hope to inspire residents to take an active role in Cambridge Government and their communities.

Publicize what is happening in Cambridge: There is so much going on in this city and the more people who take part in the fairs, festivals, markets, and community events the more engaged our residents will be. As a City Councillor I will advocate for the continued success of Cambridge's community events, and promote community service opportunities on the website and in other media outlets.

Empower our Youth: We need to include our young people in the policy making process. Time and again I hear complaints of how young people don't vote. A major reason for this is because they are left out of the governing process. Let us bring our young people to the table. I am in favor of "pre-registration" making it easier for 16 and 17 year olds to register to vote on their 18th birthday. I also will actively seek out our youth for their input and ideas in the policy making process.

Bring Policy Making to the Community: Too many committee meetings happen during "normal" work hours and most of them are held at City Hall. Committee meetings should be held at more convenient times for our residents and should take place in our neighborhoods, not just at City Hall. I also believe it is the responsibility of the City Council to actively seek out participation for meetings. We shouldn't just set the date and time we should fill the seats as well!

Enhancing our Quality of Life
Public Safety: Cambridge should strive to be the safest small city in the country. I will advocate for more community policing and preventative approaches to protecting our neighborhoods. We should take a pro-active, community-based approach to keeping our streets safe.

Rats: In Cambridge, certain neighborhoods have had continual problems with rodents. We need stronger enforcement of road construction sites. No neighborhood should be neglected when it comes to baiting our sewers and catch basins. We need to continue to educate property owners, business owners, and residents about how to dispose of waste safely and cleanly.

Library: We need to make sure that our library hours reflect the needs of the community. The main library has become the new city center and I advocate for longer Sunday hours during the school year and for keeping it open seven days a week year round.

Cambridge's Youth
As Cambridge confronts the challenges of the 21st century we must make sure that our youth are equipped to live, learn and thrive. Despite the presence of world-class universities, innovative programs and partnerships with local companies, too many youth are not prepared to compete in the workforce or engage in the classroom. Let's utilize our resources and surroundings so that all of our kids can benefit, learn and grow.

Sustainable Cambridge
In Cambridge there are two important categories when it comes to sustainability – the environment and our communities. We need to continue to lead the way on issues like local foods, energy efficiency, and transportation. But we also need to find ways to sustain what makes Cambridge so special, our neighborhoods and our communities.

Biking, Walking, and Driving – Eco-Friendly transportation
The biggest transportation issue right now is bikes. We need a comprehensive plan to address the future of biking in Cambridge. We need a combination of transportation, education, enforcement, and infrastructure upgrades to begin to solve this problem. Our goal should always be to promote clean, safe ways to travel through Cambridge.

The Grand Junction Railroad
I am against this proposal to bring commuter rail service from Worcester to North Station and was surprised this summer when the Boston Globe endorsed the project even before feasibility and ridership studies were completed. This service would bring numerous (amount still not certain) trains through our neighborhoods and would have an adverse impact on our city. It would slow the flow of traffic, causing safety concerns both from railroad crossings and re-routing emergency vehicles throughout Cambridgeport and East Cambridge.

Pedestrian Friendly Squares
One of my visions for Cambridge is a pedestrian only Harvard Square. Winthrop Street, a one-block street running between JFK and Brattle Street, has already accomplished this and it has created a great atmosphere. I would like to see more streets become pedestrian only. We could start right in the middle of Harvard Square with the first blocks of JFK and Brattle Streets.

I am a strong supporter of Proportional Representation (PR). A convincing argument in favor of PR can be found just by looking it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica:

proportional representation [is an] electoral system that seeks to create a representative body that reflects the overall distribution of public support… proportional representation ensures minority groups a measure of representation proportionate to their electoral support.

Plan E
The intent of a Plan E form of government (City Council/City Manager) is to remove the politics – or at least some of the politics – from the management of the city. I think this is an efficient and smart way to run a city and that Cambridge has flourished under these guidelines.

City Manager
Our City Manager's responsibilities spread across a range of areas. He is responsible for enforcement of all laws and city ordinances, managing departments, appointing board and commission members, and proposing a budget to the City Council.

Under Healy's leadership, Cambridge continues to provide high quality city services while keeping property taxes relatively low. Cambridge has weathered an economic storm, keeping quality of life a top priority. The fact that Cambridge is in this position is a credit to City Manager Healy's and his leadership.

I also believe, as leaders we should constantly adapt and learn from situations. That is a standard I hold myself to, and is one I expect that my colleagues on the council and the City Manager would adhere to as well.

CCTV Candidate Video (2011)

Page last updated Thursday, October 27, 2011 5:51 PM Cambridge Candidates