James Williamson, photo by Marcus Halevi

James Williamson
2009 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
1000 Jackson Place
Cambridge, MA 02140

Contact information:
website: THIS IS IT! (Thank you, Robert Winters.)
e-mail: tompaine@hotmail.com

FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS: I need your #1 vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
(And I'd APPRECIATE it!) The great thing about the "preferential ballot"
used in Cambridge elections is that you can VOTE FOR JAMES #1 and
STILL have your vote count for some other bum you think may have
a "better chance" of actually getting elected...[;-)]
A #1 vote for ME will actually MEAN SOMETHING. You can still use
your ballot to ELECT one of the others. I offer you
a glorious TWO-FER!! James M. Williamson

Thanks to all of you who voted for me somewhere on your ballot in the election this past November 3.
A special thanks to those of you who gave me your #1 vote!
Let's do it again sometime! cheers*
Happy Holiday Season!

Photo by Lawrence Prift

Photo by Lawrence Prift

CCTV candidate video 
Please have a look at my 5-minute candidate
video produced by Sean Effel with his assistant
at CCTV (Cambridge Community Access Television)


Photo by Lawrence Prift


I'm in my later 50's -- and still very young at heart. I now live at 1000 Jackson Place in the Jefferson Park public housing development in North Cambridge. I was forced to move there as a result of having been evicted and displaced two years ago from my home in Cambridgeport of over 32 years. Several tenants, including myself, had to scramble to find places to live in what's left of affordable rental housing here in Cambridge.

Roads Scholar & Concrete Cowboy (also: event organizer; publicist; neighborhood activist). Elected member of the governing board; Alliance of Cambridge Tenants (ACT); the new, officially recognized, city-wide organization of residents and tenants living in public housing or with Sec. 8 vouchers in Cambridge.

The Frugal Candidate
Several people have asked me at some of the various candidate forums I have attended, “Do you have any campaign material?” Naturally, I’m flattered. But I’m also a bit embarrassed, as I have had to explain that they need to either visit my Web site, hosted by Robert Winters at his Cambridge Civic Journal site as a public service to all candidates, or watch my candidate video at the CCTV (Cambridge Community Television) Web site, if they would like more information about my candidacy.

While there are a few people who would actually like to have something they could read about candidates, I notice there are usually big piles of this stuff left on tables and at the entrances to these events when they’re over.

Yes, even the ones sponsored by environmental groups.

Do people actually READ this stuff?

So I’d like to think I’m the TRUE environmental candidate!

(I’m also sparing you the trouble of having to reach down and pick this stuff up, so you can turn around and… recycle!)

But there’s another reason — money. I have chosen to sign a document for the state Campaign Finance Office pledging to neither “raise (n)or spend money” in this election. I am, instead, counting on word-of-mouth.

I like to think I’m “The Frugal Candidate.”

If you’re wondering about some of my “competition,” I suggest you “follow the money!”

Why am I running?

Because we need citizens on the City Council who will really pay attention to what's going on in our city and will not be afraid to speak up and do something about it. Things like people riding their bikes on our sidewalks, or the atrocious 'Cemusa, Inc.' billboard advertising opportunities masquerading as "bus shelters" littering and blocking same. Can Harvard Square get any uglier?? Keeping the McCrehan Pool open? When you send ME an email about a problem, YOU WILL GET A RESPONSE. I am a tenant, a resident of public housing, and I've lived in Cambridge for 38 years.

I will work to make Cambridge more democratic in every way possible.
Ideally, we should have an ELECTED mayor with real power (similar to Somerville, where politics are more vibrant as a result.) If not that, then we should just go ahead and ELECT THE CITY MANAGER. Why not? We should balance either of these changes by increasing the power of the elected Council. The Council should name members of boards and commissions. (Nantucket actually elect their Historical Commission.) I would suggest at least SOME "geographical" representation, with a portion of the Council elected by district. This would generate more direct, immediate, neighborhood-based accountability for a portion of the Council. We should explore "Community Boards" as in New York City to review, and approve or reject major projects. The Police Department should be improved with genuine community policing -- grounded in the grassroots neighborhood. We should move toward full community control of the police. And residents in public housing need a stronger voice in the management of public housing.

I would reverse the decision to hire an outside consultant for $130,000 to "advise" the Police Department in the wake of the arrest of Professor Gates this past summer. I would focus instead on the resources we already have in this amazing city (full of very talented, smart and potentially engaged citizens) to investigate and address the issues highlighted by this arrest. I'd rather see us hire FOUR CAMBRIDGE YOUTH WORKERS FOR $32,000 EACH to work in our neighborhoods with the highest unemployment and biggest challenges. In conjunction with this, young people in Cambridge (and anyone else interested) should have ample opportunities to learn and train in the growing fields of energy efficiency, conservation and renewables, for life and for the "green jobs" of the future. I'd appreciate your #1 vote!

"What good is our much-touted 'Triple A' bond rating if we're not willing to spend the money WISELY, but also on things that MATTER?? (Like keeping pools open!) And all of us should have a clearer voice in how our money is spent. I will explore a "participatory budget," as practiced in major democratic cities in Brazil."

Statement on Hyatt Regency Cambridge
I attended a rally and protest last Thursday, September 17 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Boston in support of 100 housekeepers who were summarily and deceptively fired by Hyatt on August 31 and replaced by outsourced workers paid half as much with no benefits. I urge everyone to boycott the "sister" Hyatt Regency in Cambridge -- same corporation and same lousy treatment -- until workers currently backed by the union UNITE/HERE get a fair deal.

Here's one of several useful Boston Globe articles: http://www.boston.com/jobs/news/articles/2009/09/17/housekeepers_lose_hyatt_jobs_to_outsourcing.

Support the Hyatt 100!

Join Hyatt workers and their families, Local 26 members, religious leaders of many faiths and supporters for a


Candle Light Vigil to support the Hyatt 100

Wednesday, November 11 at 5pm

Hyatt Regency Boston

1 Avenue De Lafayette

(Downtown Crossing, near the Chinatown, Park St and Boylston T stations)

Wednesday, November 11, we're telling Hyatt…

"The Struggle Continues!"

"La Lucha Continua"

"O esforço continua!"

"La lutte continue !"

Other topics asked of candidates this year:

2) Top Priorities: [List about three and elaborate below]

3) Quality of Life and Public Safety (rodents, noise abatement, etc.):

4) Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:

7) Land Use, Planning, Zoning, Density:

8) Economic Development and Commerce:

9) Human Services Programs (including youth programs and senior programs):

10) Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:

11) Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:

12) Housing:

13) Arts and Public Celebrations:

14) University Relations:

15) Civic Participation:

16) Cambridge Public Schools:

Sept 9, 2009 Candidate Forum (video)

Page last updated November 30, 2009 Cambridge Candidates