Report: Multiple aides accuse Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui of creating toxic work environment

Local News

The mayor, who is the first Muslim woman ever elected in Cambridge, is seeking reelection in November.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe, File

Eight women who have worked for Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui are alleging the city’s leader created a toxic work environment, The Boston Globe reports.

According to the newspaper, four of the eight employees who have worked for the mayor since 2017 say Siddiqui undermined their self-esteem and retaliated against them when they sought to leave their positions or accepted new jobs. 

Siddiqui, who made history in 2020 when she became the first Muslim elected mayor in the state, is running for reelection in November. Under Cambridge’s council-manager system, the mayor is selected by their fellow elected City Councilors and doesn’t wield much power since the manager handles the day-to-day operations of the city. City Councilors are elected using ranked choice voting.

Siddiqui told the Globe the allegations “are [either] simply not true or mischaracterizations” and suggested the timing of the accusations may be motivated by politics with the election approaching.

“While I acknowledge that I have high standards for my staff, I am continually open to learning how to be a better supervisor,” she told the newspaper. “I hold the ideals of respect and equity high.”

Theo Skeadas is one of the former aides who spoke with the Globe. She managed Siddiqui’s first council campaign in 2017 and ran unsuccessfully for council herself. According to the Globe, she alleges that the mayor has badmouthed her over the years to community members, calling Skeadas disloyal and untrustworthy.

Skeadas said she blames those remarks in part for her failed 2021 council run. 

“You can break barriers and also cause a lot of harm in the process,” Skeadas said.

Read the full report at The Boston Globe.