Occupation: Entrepreneur (Self Employed)
How long have you lived in Cambridge?
I moved to Cambridge with my family in the summer of 2015.
Do you reside in the ward/city you are running in?
Yes, I have been living in Ward 5 of Cambridge for the past 7 years and I am running for councillor position in Ward 5.
Why are you running in this election?
My ward needs a new committed leader who has the ability to think out of the box and has the ability to represent the residents of ward 5 and Cambridge to the City Council regardless of their color, economical class and political affiliation. I am running in the municipal election because of my strong belief that the City Council must reflect the diversity of the city and represent the ideas, aspirations and stories of our diverse community. I believe that a community or society can only achieve sustainable growth through an inclusive approach which includes news ideas, community well being and solutions to everyone's issues which the City Council has been lacking in the past. I want to be the voice of change for my fellow ward 5 residents and the people of Cambridge.
What qualifies you to represent your ward?
Over the past seven years, I have interacted with people from diverse backgrounds who come from different ethnic groups, socio-economic status, race, religion, age, and people from all walks of life. The interaction with the people has allowed me to understand the needs and issues which are vital to the residents of ward 5.
My education and experience in different fields in community development, project management, community engagement, agriculture scientific research, and international development will help to implement ideas and policies that are for the betterment of my constituents. Since I have been living in Cambridge,I have spent an uncountable number of hours volunteering for the benefit and betterment of the community. I volunteered my time in designing and organizing seminars
and workshops for education and experience purposes for professionals and common people.
I also worked as a director with the City of Cambridge in the “Adam Bernice Award Committee.” My ability to bridge ideas and concepts through strong leadership and self accountability approach that qualifies me to represent ward 5 at the city Council.
Why should people vote for you?
The people should vote for me because of my experience in community development and from my diversified background education and working experience in different fields that will have a great impact on the development of Ward 5 and City of Cambridge.
Over the past seven years, I have interacted with people from diverse backgrounds which allowed me to understand the needs, requirements and issues which are vital to the people of Cambridge. My education and work experiences in different fields have allowed me to have conversations with people and have helped me identify the needs and the issues which they care the most about. Overall, my desire and my commitment for creating change, is why people should vote for me.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward?
Living in Cambridge for the past seven years, the most common issues which I heard or that have been brought to my attention by the residents of Ward 5 are affordable housing, the lack of financial accountability, not focusing enough on sustainability and environmental protection. A lack of community safety and not having enough resources and support for assisting small businesses. Lastly, there is a huge issue in regards to infrastructure as well as transportation.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Cambridge on a broader scale?
When looking at the broader scale, issues such as affordable housing, community safety, accountability and lack of diversity in the city council are the main issues. These issues have multiple impacts on the social well-being of an individual as well as community life patterns. These issues need urgent attention by all stakeholders. We need more accountability in terms of finance, tax collection and expenditure, resource allocation, infrastructure development and job opportunities for everyone. These issues need our urgent attention. Cambridge needs Change. Vote for Naeem, Naeem for Change!
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Cambridge?
The most important change I want to see in the council is a strong and accountable leadership. Which will be proved by their actions. The decision of the council must be made through a democratic process and it should address their concerns and ideas. Strong leadership and accountability will not only reflect the issues and problems which are brought up to the council but also, it will reflect on the positive changes that will end up happening because of it.
What services need to be improved in Cambridge?
There are many services that need to be improved in Cambridge to make Cambridge a better livable city for everyone. But some of the services that need urgent attention and be improved such as making public spaces more accessible for people with disabilities, parents or anyone that requires extra support.
Municipal government should offer more support, resources and assistance to local businesses and organizations for sustainable growth and job opportunities. Lastly, it is key that we work on creating workplaces, schools, and communities more diverse, and inclusive to accurately represent the diverse and
growing population of Cambridge.
Overall, there needs to be better development in regards to community safety and community well-being.
Is Cambridge growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough?
Cambridge is growing at the right pace but if the council does not act on their toes in the coming years Cambridge might end up growing too fast and then there won’t be enough resources, jobs and opportunities for the people. It is important we start working on the issues now so in the future when the population increases, Cambridge does not end up being in a crisis situation.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing?
The rising cost of the housing market is not only affecting individuals but overall, it is affecting the wellbeing of the community. The short term strategy would include delimiting the zoning criteria, minimizing property taxes and freezing taxes for a certain period of time for first time buyers and seniors. There needs to be more skilled labour in the market and this task can be achieved by developing customized licensing criteria without compromising the professional and safety requirement.
The long term strategy would be to build new affordable city housing communities where they have their own board of directors. Encourage non-government organizations who have experience in construction and provide them financial incentives to build more houses. The government may allot land to low/middle income families to build their own house. This venue would allow for more job opportunities as well. There should be better coordination among city council and academia to introduce new environmentally friendly low cost building materials and ideas which are less labour intensive and cost effective.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue?
The high cost of living and the rise of the housing market has a lot to do with the local homelessness we have in Cambridge. One of the strategies to tackle local homelessness is building an awareness campaign across the board and recognizing it as an everyone’s issue by using various mediums of media and highlighting the direct/ indirect impacts of the issues on society, mental health and health care system, community safety, economy, and societal well being. There should be open and regular communication with the homeless people and it is essential to get their opinions on how to resolve the local homelessness with their support.
People that are going through local homelessness need to be leaders in helping tackle local homelessness as they will be able to better provide solutions in
comparison to anyone else.
How do we make Cambridge an even better city to live in?
To make Cambridge a better city to live in, we need to make Cambridge safe and secure, have reasonable housing prices and make diversity a core element of our city. Bridging the gaps in our communities, ideas and actions and overall, developing ownership and being respectful towards everyone will allow us to make Cambridge an even better city to live in.
To learn more about Naeem, visit the following links: