Young progressives from diverse backgrounds running for and winning local office, with huge turnouts, on a platform of getting everyone involved in making cities welcoming and supportive for all? That sounds to us like a better political future-- but for newly elected Somerville Aldermen Ben Ewen-Campen and Will Mbah, it is the promising present.
Ben is a biology post-doc at the Harvard Medical School, who recently ran a first-time, grassroots campaign to become the newly-elected Ward 3 Alderman in Somerville. Will Mbah is originally from a small city in Cameroon, and received his bachelor's degree from the University of Buea, where he was also an advocate for student rights during frequent periods of campus unrest. Will earned a master's degree in Sweden in environmental science. Seeking greater economic opportunity, Will immigrated to the U.S. through the green card lottery in 2010 - a program President Donald Trump has threatened to shut down following a recent attack in New York. In November 2015 Will earned his U.S. citizenship. He and his wife Christelle welcomed their first child Joel in 2016, and their constant search for an affordable apartment was what motivated him to run for alderman-at-large. Ewen-Campen was also motivated by Somerville's affordability crisis, and the fact that turnout in municipal elections is traditionally so low - over 80% of registered voters typically do not vote in municipal elections.
This year, thanks to energized, grassroots campaigns across the city, voter turnout was far higher -- more than double last year's vote in Ewen-Campen's ward, thanks to their Bernie Sanders-endorsed approach of pushing for 100% turnout in races usually dominated by a relatively few established homeowners and older voters. All are welcome to join us at the Humanist Hub as we to speak with Will and Ben about their stories and about how young leaders from diverse backgrounds are thinking globally and acting locally like never before. 1:30-3:00pm, 30 JFK Street. Read more here.
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