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Cambridge elects first Muslim woman mayor

Sumbul Siddiqui is the new mayor of Cambridge.Dina Rudick

Sumbul Siddiqui, whose family immigrated to the United States from Pakistan when she was 2, has been picked by her fellow City Councilors to be mayor of Cambridge.

Siddiqui, the first Muslim woman ever elected in Cambridge, is in her second term as a council member. The mayor serves as chair of both the City Council and the School Committee and fulfills political, ceremonial and community leadership functions. Cambridge also has a city manager, who oversees departments and services.

While the Cambridge mayor doesn’t wield as much power as mayors in other cities, Siddiqui appears to be the first Muslim to have gained the title in the state, said Shaun Kennedy, campaigns director for Jetpac, a Cambridge-based nonprofit dedicated to increasing Muslim engagement in the political process nationwide.


Speaking after she was sworn in, Siddiqui said, “My door will always be open -- and my office full of coffee and seltzer -- because at the end of the day we need each other, we need each other to get things done. At the end of the day, I’m committed to equity, inclusivity. and putting others first. That is exactly what I will strive to do for the next two years as your mayor.”

Siddiqui moved to the United States with her parents and twin brother from Karachi, Pakistan, according to her biography on the city website. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Brown University and a law degree from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

“As mayor, I am committed to leading this council as we look ahead to a new decade. We will rise to meet the challenges facing our community -- from creating more affordable housing and economic opportunity to closing the achievement gap and improving our response to instances of racism and bias in our public institutions," she said. “At the same time, we will remain engaged with regional issues like climate resilience and investment in our public infrastructure.”


“I know we can make progress on what seem like intractable challenges. Our community is full of people ready to help,” she said.

Councilor Marc McGovern, the outgoing mayor, and Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll were among those congratulating Siddiqui.

“Congratulations to new Cambridge Mayor @SumbulSidd. Look forward to working with you on a host of issues including housing, climate and immigrant rights,” Curtatone tweeted.

Kennedy, of Jetpac, said the only other Muslims who have risen so high in Massachusetts politics are former Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen and Mehreen Butt, who is a current member of the Wakefield Town Council. “We’re very pleased to see more representation. It’s exactly what this country needs right now,” he said.

"We’re thrilled to see Councillor Siddiqui become the first Muslim Mayor in Massachusetts. Mayor Siddiqui’s accomplishments are an inspiration to American Muslims who are running for office all over the country to help fix massive inequities in healthcare, housing, education, and the criminal legal system,” Jetpac executive director Mohammed Missouri said in an e-mail.

Martin finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.