For the first time in living memory, Cambridge residents will see a candidate’s name twice on their ballots in November. That name is Frantz Pierre: a social worker and lifelong Cantabrigian who is running simultaneously for Cambridge City Council and School Committee.
Whether Pierre can serve on both municipal boards if elected is unclear — Cambridge’s election commission says he would need to ask the State Ethics Commission and Cambridge Law Department. For now, Pierre is campaigning for both positions on a platform of expanding youth opportunities, increasing affordable housing options, developing entrepreneurship programs, and protecting elders.
The youngest of 12 siblings in a Haitian American family, Pierre has been involved in Cambridge civics since he was 13, when he served as a junior counselor at the Area 4 Youth Center, a local child care provider.
“I never really valued money. I’ve always valued people,” he said in an interview. “I was always the guy that was at the youth center, still there, four or five hours after it closed, training the kids, educating the kids.”
Pierre said he wants to expand opportunities for Cambridge youth through hands-on programs in schools. He supports financial literacy and trade programs that teach students practical skills that can help them feed their families. He also wants to grow pathways to Harvard and MIT, including by starting programs that teach student leadership and management skills starting in elementary school.
Pierre — a supporter of the 100 Percent-Affordable Housing Zoning Overlay and its controversial proposed amendments — stressed the importance of making the city more affordable for both incoming and existing low-income residents.
“The surrounding city is growing income-wise, but the people on the inside are not,” he said, specifically referencing residents living in Cambridge Housing Authority developments like Washington Elms, Newtowne Court, and Jefferson Park.
Pierre said he remembers growing up with rent control in Cambridge before it was banned across Massachusetts in 1994.
“That’s when Cambridge definitely felt like a village,” he said. “I would love to have that energy back. Right now it’s kind of separated and segregated.”
Caring for the elderly is an important component of Pierre’s platform. “Elderly abuse is very big, especially nowadays,” he said, explaining that he witnessed elders facing abuse from landlords, scam callers, and even their family members while working as a care coordinator at the Boston Medical Center.
He said he wants to build a “state-of-the-art facility” for the elderly to ensure that they receive the best treatment possible and have programs and case managers to keep them from feeling alone. Pierre also hopes to mitigate homelessness among elderly residents and prevent their displacement.
With the city in the midst of reviewing its plan of government, Pierre said he would like to see Cambridge shift to a strong mayor system, “because I think that gives the power to the people,” he said.
He credits becoming a father as motivation for his run for office. He added that he was inspired by the quote: “When you’re looking for someone to do something for you, you’re actually looking for yourself.”
Pierre recalls having some “run-ins” with the police growing up where he said he was mistreated and did not know how to advocate for himself. “I want to inspire our youth and teach them how to advocate for themselves and stand up for themselves,” he said.
Asked about policing in Cambridge, Pierre said that he loves the Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team, a non-police public safety alternative known as HEART. “But I also love Cambridge Police as well,” he added.
He explained that he doesn’t support defunding the police because he thinks that this will increase crime, calling the concept “tricky.”
This is Pierre’s second time running for city office, having made an unsuccessful bid for the Council in 2021. He said the experience was fun and challenging, and that it taught him a lot.
If elected to both the Council and School Committee this year, Pierre said he doesn’t yet know which he would choose. “I just want to serve,” he said.