Matt DeBergalis

Matt DeBergalis
2003 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
120B Auburn Street
Cambridge MA 02139

Contact information:

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Matt DeBergalis
120B Auburn St.
Cambridge, MA 02139

or by credit card at 

Matt DeBergalis, 26, attended MIT from 1995 through 2000, and has lived in Cambridge since 1998. In 1999 he rented a house in Cambridgeport, near Central Square, and two years later bought a condo just around the corner on Auburn Street.

Raised in Indiana, Matt attended high school in San Juan, Puerto Rico, then lived in Brookline for his first three years at MIT. Since receiving his Master's degree in Computer Science, Matt has worked at local technology companies Orca Systems and Network Appliance. In early 2003, he left his job to found North Annex, Inc., a Cambridge-based software startup.

He is a founding member of the Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts, has served as the MIT Habitat Construction Manager, and raised over $7,000 for Fenway Community Health and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center in two AidsRide events. He is currently the president of North Annex, a member of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, a trustee of the Dover Club, the trustee organization for MIT's ZBT fraternity chapter, an avid Ultimate Frisbee player, and semi-serious cyclist.

Cambridge's housing crisis is our single most pressing issue. A declining, more transient population negates our best efforts to combat crime, improve public schools, promote better community, and ultimately robs Cambridge of its culture and diversity.

I strongly favor approaches that address both the quantity and affordability of housing. By focusing entirely on costs, our policies fail to prevent a growing shortage of housing. Without an aggressive effort to increase the supply of housing, prices can only be held in check with increasingly drastic measures. Such measures are unsustainable. Our efforts to encourage new housing must include both middle income family housing, as well as deeded affordable units.

Harvard and MIT can play a powerful role here. We must require that new university housing measurably pulls current students, staff, or faculty out of the open Cambridge housing market, rather than that of other towns. This approach has an immediate impact on demand, equal to that of building a similar number of new units. Further, by leveraging the universities' willingness to build affordable units alongside their own developments, we enjoy the double wins of reduced demand and increased supply.

Quality of Life:
We must always work to further reduce crime in Cambridge. Better coordination between Cambridge, Harvard, and MIT police will improve some of the less safe areas on the fringes of both campuses.

Housing developments, in the vein of the new University Park, should mix residential buildings with retail and research businesses to ensure significant pedestrian and bike traffic during evening hours. We must treat each development project as a stepping stone for the next; North Point should benefit from the lessons learned near Central Square.

I'm proud of my endorsements by both the Cambridge Lavender Alliance and GaMIT (MIT's GLBT support group). I will work with the other Councilors to fight to restore domestic partnership rights. This is a battle that we can not ignore.

Municipal Finance & Government:
No response.

Environment and Public Health:
Cambridge continues to invest in sewer separation, even as other funding sources are in decline. This decision is the correct one, and I will fervently support similar investments in our environment as a Councilor.

The smoking ban was also the correct decision, but we must work hard to make sure that our small businesses are not adversely affected by it. Consistency is the key, here; we should forcefully argue for a statewide ban.

Land Use, Planning, Development, and Transportation:
I believe it is time that Cambridge vastly rethinks its approach to bike safety. Roads that are simply not wide enough to safely include a bike lane should not include a bike lane. We must aggressively enforce the prohibition on cars driving or stopping in bike lanes, and we must encourage cyclists to use roads like Harvard Street and Green Street that parallel the busiest commercial thoroughfares with a network of signs and established bike routes. We can also ensure that all Cambridge cyclists have lights and helmets by subsidizing these safety items for sale at local bike shops.

Cambridge must also work hard to see that novel transportation options like EZRide and Zipcar succeed. These sorts of transportation solutions work well here, and should be used as key parts of our overall strategy for traffic reduction and increased access to public transit.

University Relations:
Relations with our large universities are strained. We are right to seek stronger assurances over long term development plans, and to demand more in recompense for institutional expansion that affects our tax base and the character of our neighborhoods. I believe we should pursue more non-financial opportunities along the lines of the housing opportunities I spoke of above.

Disagreement over future development and land purchases must not, however, cloud a crucial second relationship: that between the students at these schools and the rest of us. It is wrong that we lump students in with the universities they attend; the two have very different goals. The city's 15,000 students represent our greatest untapped resource. Some of the world's future leaders are right here in our midst. We must do more to engage them in our city and draw on their energies and knowledge. Much of my campaign centers around ensuring that these students have a voice in Cambridge, and that they are truly our equals.

Civic participation:
Young people must participate in politics. I am proud to have registered nearly 800 new voters in Cambridge for the 2003 election.

Unfortunately, at both national and local levels, young people vote all too infrequently. In Massachusetts, only 29% of those 24 and under voted in the last presidential election. For the last thirty years, voter participation has been on a steady decline. The youngest generations of voters account for the majority of this disturbing trend. My primary goal is to bring thousands of students to the polls. We have worked with Harvard and MIT to support voter registration and education. Encouraging voting through local causes not only benefits our community today, but is a great tool for fostering more meaningful participation in upcoming national elections.

Locally, broader representation benefits everyone, not just the young. Harvard, MIT, Lesley, and tech companies bring some of the most industrious, excited, energetic people in the world to our city. These people aren't "temporary residents" in any sense. The universities have assorted programs to encourage their students to help out in the community, but there's a big difference between charitable service and a fully-participating citizen on equal footing.

Cambridge Public Schools:
We have a long way to go to make our public schools a new pride of the city. All aspects of the system, including students, teachers, administrators, the School Committee, and certainly the City Council, must set measurable goals and be held to them. More parent participation is a must. And we have to take advantage of the students and resources at our universities.

Between Harvard, MIT, and Lesley, it is an absolute shame that our public school system is not the envy of the Commonwealth. Programs like LINKS, Splash, and others are a great start (I'm a Splash instructor this year), but we can do so much more. Many courses at the universities are excellent opportunities for collaboration with Cambridge. As a City Councilor with strong ties to both MIT and Harvard, I will do everything I can to ensure these opportunities are not wasted.

Cambridge Candidates