Town Meeting

Michael Zoorob for Precinct 3

My name is Michael Zoorob. I’m running to represent Precinct 3 as a Town Meeting Member because I want to be an effective advocate for our Precinct and a progressive voice on housing affordability, the environment, and equity and inclusion. Election day is May 4th. I am proud to be endorsed by Brookline for Everyone and Brookline PAX. Below the picture is a bit more about me and why I am running.

About Me

I’m a doctoral candidate in the Department of Government at Harvard University, where I’ll graduate with a PhD in May 2021. I’ve lived on Longwood Avenue near Coolidge Corner for the past four years.

I’ve been very involved in Town politics and government for the last couple of years (it helps that some of my research is on local politics). I currently serve on the Committee for Policing Reforms, where I serve as chair of the Accountability Subcommittee. I also serve on the Cannabis Mitigation Advisory Board. I’m a Board Member of Brookline PAX, a longstanding (since 1962!) progressive civic group that came out of the anti-nuclear weapons movement, and Brookline for Everyone, a relatively new (since 2019) housing affordability group. And I’ve been an election worker since 2018; in the November 2020 election, I served as the “Warden” of Precinct 14.

Involvement in Town Meeting

Although I have never been a Town Meeting Member, I’ve been very involved in at presented at recent Town Meetings. At the 2020 Special Town Meeting, I was the lead petitioner of an effort to re-legalize apartments that are 500 square feet or less in Brookline (they were banned by accident in 2016). I also co-petitioned two successful Warrant Articles to expand certain notices, such as those pertaining to demolition permit hearings, to residents who are renters (such notices were previously given only to landowners). At this May’s Annual Town Meeting, I am a co-petitioner with several others on 1) A resolution to encourage voting (in this blog post I show how renters are underrepresented in local elections) 2) An effort to incentivize Fossil Fuel Free construction in a zoning district (the Emerald Island Special District located at River Road) experiencing redevelopment.

Why I am running

I am interested in and care about Brookline, my neighborhood, and local politics. I want to promote policies which strengthen Brookline’s positive features and reflect our shared values as a progressive Town. “Think globally, act locally,” as the Brookline PAX motto goes. Being a Town Meeting Member requires thinking critically about all kinds of issues that will get debated, and being an effective advocate for your precinct. But there are some issue areas that I feel particularly strong about, and are worth mentioning specifically:

  • Climate Justice. I would like to play a role in pushing the Town to use the tools at its disposal — including the powers to regulate and incentivize Greener Building Practices (e.g. Fossil Fuel Free Construction and Transit Oriented Development) through the zoning by-law, the budget, and the power of persuasion — to mitigate the climate crisis.
  • Housing Affordability. Similarly, how can the Town make Brookline a more accessible place to live for people of all incomes? Some concrete areas I would love to explore are changing our zoning by-law’s Public Benefits Incentive to enable more mixed-income housing, and to modify zoning to make it easier to convert very large dwellings into more modest condos (e.g. this $8 million, 7000 square foot home). I also support — and encourage Brookline voters to support — the Community Preservation Act (CPA), a small property tax surcharge which, with matching funds from the state, can be used to support affordable housing, parks and recreation, historical preservation, and open space. There is a question on the May ballot to adopt the CPA in Brookline.
  • Equity and Inclusion. How can local politics and policies become more inclusive of people of all races, genders, economic backgrounds, ages, abilities, etc? How can we increase the presence of renters in local politics?

I hope you will consider voting for me on May 4th (or earlier!). As my last name is Zoorob, I will be the last candidate listed on the ballot for Town Meeting Member in Precinct 3. Precinct 3 votes at the Ridley School Gymnasium, accessible from the Stedman Street entrance. Please feel free to reach out to me at mzoorob@g.harvard.edu!