Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

January 28, 2010

Campaign Finance Activity – School Committee 2009

Filed under: 2009 Election,campaign finance — Robert Winters @ 3:55 pm

Campaign Finance Activity - 2009 School Committee

Opening Balance
Current Balance
#1 Votes
$ per #1 vote
Fantini, Fred$4966.00$5780.38$6704.59$4041.7912/31/092040$3.29
Grassi, Joseph$10.00$6205.00$6105.95$109.0512/31/091884$3.24
Harding, Richard$0.00$10710.60$10318.67$391.9312/31/091991$5.18report filed late
McGovern, Marc$1873.00$15501.00$17837.00$1237.0012/31/091953$9.13unpaid $1700

debt added to

Nolan, Patty$1385.69$9645.00$10470.06$560.6312/31/091744$6.00
Stead, Charles$0.00$399.87$399.87$0.0012/31/09393$1.02
Steinert, Alan$0.00$23910.54$23910.54$0.0012/31/091445$16.55
Tauber, Nancy$223.82$9775.00$9166.42$832.4012/31/092050$4.47
Turkel, Alice$0.00$22079.69$18142.76$3936.9312/31/091791$10.13

Click on any column heading to sort by that field. Click again to toggle between ascending and descending.

The deadline was January 20, 2009 for filing reports of activity through December 31, 2009.

Richard Harding has not yet filed his year-end report.

Information on all City Council and School Committee candidates may be found at the Cambridge Candidate Pages.

January 7, 2010

Follow the Money

Filed under: 2009 Election,campaign finance,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 9:07 am

Jan 6 – Follow The Money – What percentage of the 2009 campaign contributions for each of the elected city councillors came from people with a Cambridge address? Here are the percentages:

Henrietta Davis – 90%    
Craig Kelley – 88%
Leland Cheung – 74%
Sam Seidel – 56%
David Maher – 54%
Denise Simmons – 51%    
Tim Toomey – 45%
Ken Reeves – 28%
Marjorie Decker – 24%
Information based on data from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF)

Addendum: The OCPF data reveals some other interesting things such as which candidates received campaign donations in excess of the individual annual limit of $500. Here are the apparent excesses:

Candidate Donor Annual Amount
Marjorie Decker Asbestos Workers Local 6 $750
Marjorie Decker Carpenters Local Union No. 33 $800
Marjorie Decker Anne DiGiovanni $1000
Marjorie Decker John DiGiovanni $1000
Marjorie Decker IUPAT District Council #35 $1250
Marjorie Decker New England Regional Council of Carpenters $1000
Marjorie Decker Sheet Metal Workers Local #17 $2750
David Maher National Association of Government Employees $750
Kenneth E. Reeves     Muirann Glenmullen $750
Kenneth E. Reeves Kelly Higgins $1000
Kenneth E. Reeves Joyce Naggar $1000
Kenneth E. Reeves Stuart Rothman $600
Kenneth E. Reeves Fred Swanson $600
Kenneth E. Reeves John Toulopoulos $600
Sam Seidel Phyllis Seidel $1000

Perhaps a refund or two may be in order, or maybe there’s some explanation for some of these. Here’s the data (zipped Excel file) for anyone who wants to go fishing: Corrections, explanations, or interesting discoveries are enthusiastically welcome. There may still be a few more 2009 donations to be recorded, but it’s all courtesy of the OCPF. — Robert Winters

January 3, 2010

On the Eve of the City Council Inauguration and Mayoral Vote

Filed under: 2009 Election,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 6:51 pm

On the Eve of the City Council Inauguration and Mayoral Vote

On Monday, January 4, 2010 at 10:00am the newly elected Cambridge City Council will be sworn in at City Hall. Once City Clerk Margaret Drury takes care of all the swearing-in, the new Council will take up their first order of business – the election of a Mayor. If a majority is able to elect a Mayor, they will then proceed to the election of the Vice-Chair of the City Council (commonly known as Vice-Mayor).

The elected councillors have been meeting in pairs and threesomes and foursomes ever since the election results were known in November as the various mayoral contenders have been trying to convince and bargain their way into the Mayor’s Office. Much of the convincing is based on things like philosophy, committee appointments, and who might be well-suited to chair the School Committee. On the other hand, there is a history of some not-so-above-board deal-making that also takes place in this process, e.g. the introduction of personal aides for all city councillors that grew out of the January 2006 deal-making.

As most voting Cantabrigians know, the Mayor of Cambridge is not popularly elected. It’s really more like the election of a City Council President as in Boston and many other places. There is a certain logic in allowing an elected body to choose its own Chair, especially in a city governed by the Plan E Charter in which the City Council chooses a city manager as chief executive officer of the City. However, there is also a point of view that city councillors should act as representatives of the electorate and that they have some duty to act on behalf of those who elected them. If this is the case, what criteria should guide the election?

Criterion #1 – Showing Up for Work

Based on who has attended City Council committee meetings during the 2008-2009 term, the nod might go to Sam Seidel or Henrietta Davis (see chart at, though a strong case could be made for David Maher who chaired more meetings than any of his colleagues. Of course, outgoing Mayor Denise Simmons would also have to be included among the contenders for all the City Council and School Committee meetings she chaired during her term.

Criterion #2 – Let the People Decide – Instant Runoff

We could use the ballot data from the November election to see who would be elected if a series of runoffs were to be held using the ballots that elected the city councillors. Based of this, the nod would go to Henrietta Davis (with Denise Simmons as the last eliminated and Tim Toomey before her). However, the notion that voter preferences should factor into the mayoral election exposes a paradox. After the 2005 and 2007 elections, the person elected Mayor was the least preferred by the voters among the nine elected and would have been the first eliminated in an Instant Runoff election. Specifically, in 2005 and 2007 the Instant Runoff winner was Henrietta Davis, but Kenneth E. Reeves was chosen in January 2006 and Denise Simmons in January 2008 as Mayor. The likely reason for this reversal of fortune is that Council colleagues often do not wish to strengthen the hand of a popular colleague. If the pattern of 2005 and 2007 is repeated this year, we’ll be greeting Mayor Leland Cheung on Monday morning.

I made a chart of these Instant Runoff Simulations for the 2009, 2007, 2005, 2003, 2001, 1999, 1997, and 1991 elections (the ones for which ballot data is available). It’s worth noting that the last times the Instant Runoff winners were actually elected Mayor were in 1997 (Frank Duehay) and 1999 (Anthony Galluccio).

Criterion #3 – Let the People Decide – Look at the Rankings

There are quite a few ways of measuring popularity based on ballot rankings. One rather simplistic approach is to look only at the #1 rankings – a criterion often promoted in years past. The “#1 vote-getter” would make the case that this is what the people demand. Of course, this ignores the phenomenon of vote-splitting – the very thing that preferential ballots are designed to mitigate. Perhaps a more fair way to measure popularity based on ballot rankings would be to count the number of ballots on which each candidate appears with a high ranking, e.g. somewhere in the top 3 or top 5 or top 9 rankings. Henrietta Davis wins according to this criteria in all scenarios except the “Top 3” criterion in which she is eclipsed by 1 vote by Denise Simmons, 5015 to 5014. It’s worth noting that according to these criteria, some elected councillors fare worse than some candidates who were not even elected. For example, using a “Top 3” criterion, Marjorie Decker and Leland Cheung are eclipsed by Eddie Sullivan and Larry Ward. In all criteria using 5 or more rankings, Marjorie Decker actually finishes 12th, though one can certainly argue that this may be a by-product of being a write-in candidate.

Criterion #4 – School Committee Experience

There are four councillors who have been previously elected to the Cambridge School Committee – Tim Toomey, Henrietta Davis, David Maher, and Denise Simmons. Of course, all those who have previously served as Mayor have also served in this capacity.

Criterion #5 – The Rotation Principle

There is something of a tradition of passing the torch among City Council colleagues so that various mayoral styles and priorities can be sampled. Based on this, the nod would go to Tim Toomey and Henrietta Davis for having waited their turn the longest. Needless to say, this criterion is most often quoted in order to dissuade councillors from reelecting a Mayor to a 2nd consecutive term. The Rotation Principle generally goes hand-in-hand with the Exclusion Principle, i.e. the fact that there are some elected councillors whose behavior has been such that they couldn’t get majority support under virtually any circumstance. In short, some measure of acceptability is a prerequisite for consideration under the Rotation Principle. Though there is a temptation to name the Excluded here, I shall resist. In any case, every councillor’s vote weighs as much as any other.

We’ll see what Monday brings. Perhaps a deck of cards or some dice will prove handy in determining the outcome. – Robert Winters

Jan 4, 4:00pm update: The newly inaugurated Cambridge City Council failed to elect Mayor at its opening meeting. Their next opportunity will be at their regular January 11 meeting next Monday. Here’s how the vote went:

Leland Cheung voted for Marjorie Decker
Henrietta Davis voted for Henrietta Davis
Marjorie Decker voted for Marjorie Decker
Craig Kelley voted for Ken Reeves
David Maher voted for David Maher
Ken Reeves voted for Ken Reeves
Sam Seidel voted for David Maher
Denise Simmons voted for Denise Simmons
Tim Toomey voted for David Maher

It takes 5 votes to elect a Mayor, so there’s a way to go. The School Committee will be inaugurated at 6:00pm tonight with Councillor Reeves standing in as Chair in the absence of an elected Mayor. It is not clear whether they will vote to elect their Vice-Chair at this meeting or if they will wait until the election of a Mayor and 7th voting member of the School Committee.

December 22, 2009

Campaign Finance Activity – City Council 2009 (Jan 1 to Dec 31)

Filed under: 2009 Election,campaign finance,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:55 am

Campaign Finance Activity - 2009 City Council (as of Dec 31)

$/#1 vote
$ from
Adkins, Lawrence$34.93$495.00$92.40$437.5312/31/2009103$0.90100%
Cheung, Leland$0.00$7706.85$6445.46$1261.3912/31/2009756$8.5374%$5000 repaid loan
Davis, Henrietta$11185.16$51854.20$62517.68$521.6812/31/20091858$33.6590%
Decker, Marjorie$1867.27$73067.87$72705.44$2229.7012/31/20091285$56.5824%
Flanagan, Mark$0.00$140.35$140.35$0.0012/31/2009112$1.25100%
Glick, Silvia$0.00$10466.22$10184.13$282.0912/31/2009256$39.7895%$2000 repaid loan
Kelley, Craig$6465.86$11635.72$9006.41$9095.1712/31/20091250$7.2188%
Leavitt, Neal$0.00$2906.17$2570.26$335.9112/31/2009136$18.9079%
Maher, David$12827.62$38271.50$37381.60$13717.5212/31/20091286$29.0754%
Marquardt, Charles$0.00$34409.40$31449.90$2959.5012/31/2009385$81.6992%
Moree, Gregg J.$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0012/31/200947$0.00
Podgers, Kathy$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0012/31/200978$0.00
Reeves, Ken$6401.11$54826.34$58743.04$2484.4112/31/20091166$50.3828%
Seidel, Sam$775.16$24990.25$22988.73$2776.6812/31/2009900$25.5456%
Simmons, Denise$8689.90$34475.78$42062.94$1102.7412/31/20091785$23.5651%
Stohlman, Tom$0.00$5525.00$2646.76$2878.2412/31/2009378$7.00100%
Sullivan, Edward J.$3950.24$25100.00$28313.15$737.0912/31/2009885$31.9937%
Toomey, Tim$34043.27$37974.15$52680.13$9337.2912/31/20091748$33.0045%$5000 repaid loan
vanBeuzekom, Minka$0.00$18576.81$15561.56$3015.2512/31/2009682$22.8276%
Ward, Larry$132.86$16933.34$16595.78$470.4212/31/2009736$22.5578%
Williamson, James$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0012/31/200990$0.00

Click on a column title to sort by that field. Click again to toggle between ascending and descending order.

A detailed current summary is available at

All information derived from the campaign finance reports at the OCPF website.

Information on all City Council and School Committee candidates may be found at the Cambridge Candidate Pages.

November 28, 2009

Age and party voting statistics for the recent Cambridge municipal election

Filed under: 2009 Election — Robert Winters @ 12:20 am

Nov 27 – Age and party voting statistics for the recent Cambridge municipal election:

Average age of all registered voters 43.7
Median age of all registered voters 38.4
Average age of those who voted in the 2009 election 55.2
Median age of those who voted in the 2009 election 56.1
Percentage of registered voters who voted 26.6%
Percentage of registered Democrats who voted (11169 of 35587) 31.4%
Percentage of registered Republicans who voted (563 of 2800) 20.1%
Percentage of Unenrolled who voted (4182 of 20997) 19.9%
Percentage of registered Green-Rainbow who voted (65 of 262) 24.8%

Histogram of ages of all registered Cambridge voters - 2009

Histogram of ages of Cambridge voters who voted in the 2009 election

Histogram of ages of Cambridge voters who voted in the 2008 presidential election

November 26, 2009

Voter turnout in Cambridge by precinct

Filed under: 2009 Election,City Council — Robert Winters @ 10:40 am

Nov 26 – Voter turnout in Cambridge by precinct in the recent Cambridge City Council election:

Precinct Reg. voters Voted turnout Precinct Reg. voters Voted turnout Precinct Reg. voters Voted turnout
9-1 2160 788 36.5% 3-1 1593 468 29.4% 4-2 2319 536 23.1%
1-2 1686 609 36.1% 4-1 2092 603 28.8% 3-3 1539 336 21.8%
11-3 2403 861 35.8% 8-2 2002 552 27.6% 6-2 2035 428 21.0%
9-2 2346 812 34.6% 2-1 1817 497 27.4% 8-1 1565 283 18.1%
9-3 2187 756 34.6% 6-1 2079 555 26.7% 4-3 1029 182 17.7%
1-3 1757 603 34.3% 5-1 2362 611 25.9% 11-1 1704 274 16.1%
11-2 2178 729 33.5% 6-3 2125 540 25.4% 7-2 1239 169 13.6%
10-2 2236 720 32.2% 7-1 1998 507 25.4% 7-3 800 88 11.0%
5-2 2113 660 31.2% 10-3 1634 399 24.4% 8-3 743 71 9.6%
10-1 2401 716 29.8% 1-1 2265 542 23.9% 2-3 599 37 6.2%
5-3 2264 669 29.5% 3-2 1834 432 23.6% 2-2 762 40 5.2%

Citywide, there were 59,866 registered voters and 16,073 City Council ballots cast for an overall turnout of 26.6%. It should be noted that the registered voters include many “inactive” voters who may no longer live in Cambridge but who remain on the registered voter list due to requirements of the Motor-Voter Law. A more accurate value for the actual turnout may be about 34.4%.

November 13, 2009

2009 Final Cambridge Municipal Election Results

Filed under: 2009 Election — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 11:54 pm

Nov 13 – The Final, Official Count of the Cambridge Municipal Election (including any provisional ballots and overseas absentee ballots) took place on Friday, Nov 13, 2009 at the offices of the Cambridge Election Commission (51 Inman St., 1st Floor Conference Room). Here are the Final Results:

Elected to the City Council – Henrietta Davis, Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Ken Reeves, Sam Seidel, Marjorie Decker, and Leland Cheung (in order of election).

Elected to the School Committee – Nancy Tauber, Richard Harding, Marc McGovern, Fred Fantini, Alice Turkel, and Patty Nolan (in order of election).

Nov 18, 23 update – Joseph Grassi has filed a petition for a recount. He was edged out by Patty Nolan by 18 votes. The candidates will meet with the Election Commission on Mon, Nov 30 at 10:00am and the Recount will commence at the West Cambridge Youth/Community Center (680 Huron Ave.) at 9:00am on Tues, Dec 1.

Note: The order of election shown has been corrected to show that Nancy Tauber was the first candidate to reach the election quota.

Excel spreadsheets of Final Election Counts (Nov 13)
now with Ward, Precinct Info (Nov 17)
now with #2 vote distributions for City Council (Nov 18)
now with #2 vote distributions for School Committee (Nov 24)

Printable PDF of Final Election Counts (Nov 13)
now with Ward, Precinct Info (Nov 17)
now with #2 vote distributions for City Council (Nov 18)
now with #2 vote distributions for School Committee (Nov 24)

November 9, 2009

Observations on the 2009 Cambridge Election – Part 1

Filed under: 2009 Election — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:52 pm

Nov 9 – There may be a handful of additional ballots to be included this Friday after 5:00pm in the Final Official Count for the Cambridge Municipal Election, but this will almost certainly not affect the outcome of the election. While we all stand breathlessly waiting for the results to be finalized, perhaps this is a time to make a few observations on this year’s election:

1) We were blessed this year with some very good new candidates, most notably Tom Stohlman, Minka vanBeuzekom, Leland Cheung, and Neal Leavitt for City Council and Alan Steinert for School Committee, to name a few. Let’s hope they all assume greater roles in civic affairs in Cambridge and perhaps consider being candidates again in the future.

2) While many were quick to dismiss Marjorie Decker’s chances as a write-in candidate, nearly all the incumbents and several of the challengers knew better as indicated by their concerns expressed at several Election Commission meetings prior to the election. Indeed, an often expressed sentiment was that she might actually have an advantage by being distinguished by the notoriety of the write-in campaign and by the ability to appeal to voters to give their #1 vote this time due to this special situation. She also had a great campaign manager in Jeni Wheeler and plenty of cash.

3) Newly elected Leland Cheung was not, in fact, carried into office by waves of MIT and Harvard students. Though he did well among the relatively few students who voted, Leland’s votes were spread uniformly across the city.

4) Though some activists in East Cambridge did their best to portray Tim Toomey in the worst possible light, he still managed to get 52.5% of all #1 votes in Ward 1. East Cambridge challenger Charlie Marquardt, in contrast, received 3.6% of the #1 votes in Ward 1.

5) Though it took longer than usual to review all the additional auxiliary ballots caused by the write-in campaign, the general consensus is that the process was thorough and accurate and relatively quick (once they got the hang of it).

6) The School Committee election was unusual in that 8 of the 9 candidates did quite well in #1 vote totals with 7 of them within a few hundred votes of each other. None of them reached the election quota in the 1st Count. In the deciding 5th Count, only 19 votes separated Patty Nolan and Joe Grassi. However, unlike the 2001 election when there was a near 3-way tie for the last 2 seats and a lengthy recount, the ballot scanners did not accept ballots with overvotes (or write-ins or blanks) and consequently almost all potentially challengeable ballots have already been reviewed during the two days after Election Day. It is therefore extremely unlikely that a recount would change the results, especially since there were no over-quota candidates and therefore no variability caused by which surplus ballots would be distributed.

Stay tuned. Once the Final Official results are in, much more analysis will follow.

Nov 5 – Unofficial Final Election Results (Thursday): Elected to the City Council – Henrietta Davis, Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Ken Reeves, Sam Seidel, Marjorie Decker, and Leland Cheung (in order of election).

Elected to the School Committee – Richard Harding, Nancy Tauber, Marc McGovern, Fred Fantini, Alice Turkel, and Patty Nolan (in order of election).

Excel spreadsheets of Unofficial Final Election Counts (including auxiliary ballots)

Printable PDF of Unofficial Final Election Counts

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