Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

July 31, 2013

The Candidates – Cambridge Municipal Election 2013

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 5:10 pm

The Candidates – updated as candidates pull papers and submit signatures – updated Aug 5) – FINAL

Candidate Office Sought Address Signatures Submitted Certified* Notes
E. Denise Simmons Council 188 Harvard St., 02139 98 (July 12) 87 July 1
Kenneth Reeves Council 340 Harvard St., 02139 100 (July 5) 87 July 1
Janneke House Council 12 Hilliard St., 02138 100 (July 16) 91 July 1
Leland Cheung Council 157 Garden St., 02138 100 (July 19) 90 July 1
Minka vanBeuzekom Council 20 Essex St., 02139 66 (July 1), 34 (July 25) 92 July 1
Jefferson R. Smith Council 134 Tremont St., 02139 100 (July 23) 90 July 1
Marc McGovern Council 15 Pleasant St., 02139 100 (July 8) 97 July 1
Dennis J. Carlone Council 16 Martin St., 02138 83 (July 31), 4 (July 31) 70 July 1
Gary Mello Council 324 Franklin St., 02139 70 (July 3), 5 (July 30) 64 July 1
Lesley Rebecca Phillips Council 1643 Cambridge St. #52, 02138 83 (July 2), 17 (July 19) 94 July 1
Gregg J. Moree Council 25 Fairfield St., 02140 71 (July 23) 61 July 1
Nadeem Mazen Council 73A Magazine St. #203, 02139 100 (July 16) 82 July 1
Timothy J. Toomey Council 88 Sixth St., 02141 100 (July 9) 100 July 1
Craig Kelley Council 6 St. Gerard Terr., 02140 100 (July 2) 93 July 1
David P. Maher Council 120 Appleton St., 02138 100 (July 23) 94 July 1
Ron Peden Council 25 Aberdeen St. #3, 02138 100 (July 31) 86 July 1
Dennis A. Benzan Council 1 Pine St., 02139 86 (July 2) 75 July 1
Sam Seidel Council 381 Broadway #1, 02139 100 (July 29) 92 July 1
Kristen von Hoffmann Council 205 Walden St. #3G, 02140 100 (July 29) 99 July 1
Luis Vasquez Council 23 Market St., 02139 100 (July 8) 72 July 1
James Lee Council 400 Broadway, 02139 64 (July 12), 36 (July 15) 85 July 3
James Williamson Council 1000 Jackson Pl. #45, 02140 46 (July 23), 17 (July 25) 54 July 3
Eric Macomber Council 50 Kirkland St., 02138 July 15
Doug Brown Council 32 Gurney St., 02138 July 16
Elie Yarden Council 143 Pleasant St. #2A, 02139 97 (July 29) 75 July 17
Logan Leslie Council 204 Fayerweather St., 02138 100 (July 30) 86 July 17
Mushtaque Mirza Council 843 Mass. Ave. #3, 02139 100 (July 29) 72 July 25
Dylan Rykerson Council 1 Earhart St. #524, 02141 July 29
Richard Harding School 189 Windsor St., 02139 94 (July 26) 80 July 1
Alfred B. Fantini School 4 Canal Pk., 02141 50 (July 2), 50 (July 3) 100 July 1
Kathleen M. Kelly School 17 Marie Ave. #1, 02139 62 (July 8), 33 (July 24) 91 July 1
Fran Cronin School 1 Kimball Lane, 02140 86 (July 18) 72 July 1
Joyce Gerber School 10 Fairfield St., 02140 78 (July 12) 71 July 1
John Holland School 26 Normandy Terr., 02138 64 (July 30) 52 July 1
Patricia Nolan School 184 Huron Ave., 02138 49 (July 19), 11 (July 25) 59 July 2
Mervan Osborne School 149 Auburn St., 02139 90 (July 17) 77 July 2
Elechi Kadete School 10 Laurel St. #4, 02139 93 (July 18) 74 July 2
James Lee School 400 Broadway, 02139 July 3
Albert Howell School 249 Garden St. #6, 02138 July 5
Elie Yarden School 143 Pleasant St. #2A, 02139 July 26
Alice Turkel is not running for School Committee. The deadline for submitting signatures was Wed, July 31, 5:00pm.

* The deadline to file nomination papers is Wednesday, July 31st at 5:00pm. 50 certified signatures are required and candidates can submit no more than 100 signatures. Signatures are unofficially certified by staff in the Election Commission office, but actual certification is done by the Election Commission during July and possibly as late as Aug 14. When officially certified, the number of certified signatures will be indicated in bold.

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2013

2013 Campaign Event Listings and Candidate Forums     [Send event listings to —-]

Note to City Council and School Committee candidates (updated June 30):

Please let me know soon if you’ve made any decisions regarding your intention to be on the November 2013 municipal election ballot. If so, please send me any relevant information about your campaign (website, Facebook page, Twitter, e-mail address, phone number, where to send donations). You can also submit any other information relevant to your candidacy (background, priorities, etc.). If you have any ideas on topics that all candidates should be asked to provide statements, please send me those suggestions.

Also, if you (or anyone else) have suggestions on what topics should be presented to all City Council candidates and/or all School Committee candidates in the 2013 election, please let me know soon. Candidates are already submitting responses.

The 2013 Candidate Pages are meant as a resource not only for voters but also for reporters and supporters who may wish to get in touch regarding your campaign. I’m also happy to list any dates for campaign kickoffs or other significant candidate events in the Election Calendar. – RW

2013 Municipal Election: Nomination Papers Available Starting Monday July 1

Nomination papers for City Council and School Committee will be available beginning Monday, July 1st at the Election Commission office, 51 Inman Street, Cambridge. The office will be open on Monday, July 1st from 8:30am until 8:00pm. The deadline to file nomination papers is Wednesday, July 31st at 5:00pm. The 2013 Municipal Election Calendar is posted on the Commission’s website:

The requirements to run for City Council or School Committee are:

1. The person must be a registered voter in Cambridge. To register, one must be 18 years of age by Election Day, a U.S. citizen and a resident in the City of Cambridge.

2. The person must file no fewer than fifty (50) and no more than one hundred (100) certifiable signatures of registered voters in the City of Cambridge.

The Commission has prepared an information kit for candidates containing important dates, Commission policies, services and publications. The kits will be available with the nomination papers on July 1st.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

July 29, 2013

Midsummer Meeting – Monday, July 29, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 1:12 am

Midsummer Meeting – Monday, July 29, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

The City Councillors take a break from their reelection campaigns to take care of a few business items in this first meeting with City Manager Richard Rossi. As is usually the case after 5 weeks without a meeting, there’s a boatload of City Manager Agenda items (27), Council Resolutions (87), Council Orders (25), and Committee Reports (9). There are also 6 Charter Right items left over from June 24, and an imperfect Zoning Petition (Teague) that needs to be voted or re-filed in some form. Here’s a sampler of some of the more notable items (with a few minor comments):

Manager’s Agenda #14. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $375,000 to the Public Investment Fund Community Development Extraordinary Expenditures account which will be used to conduct a feasibility study for a bicycle and pedestrian bridge linking the Alewife Triangle and the Alewife Quadrangle.

This was originally envisioned in "The Fishbook" (a.k.a. the 1979 Alewife Revitalization Study by the CDD) as a bridge for all traffic that would connect the western end of Cambridgepark Drive to Smith Place connecting to Concord Ave. Priorities have changed radically since then and perhaps the most significant changes in the forseeable might be a bike/pedestrian bridge over the RR tracks (could happen) or a new commuter rail station (probably won’t happen).

Manager’s Agenda #20. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Planning Board recommendation on the Phillips et al, Zoning Petition, which proposes new requirements for Special District 2 (SD-2). SD-2 was created in 2000 to regulate predominantly commercial areas abutting Linear Park, which runs through the center of the district.

The recommendation says: "It is the Board’s view that the proposed changes do not serve the City’s planning goal of encouraging the transition of outdated commercial and industrial sites at neighborhood edges into housing. Moreover, the zoning for this district has recently been the subject of significant consideration by the City and the public, culminating in the City Council’s adoption of the Bishop, et al. Zoning Petition in 2012. Development that conforms to the recently adopted zoning was approved by the Planning Board this year. Making such a substantial change to the zoning at this time risks undermining the integrity of that prior public discussion and outcome."

Unfinished Business #16. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 16, 2013 to discuss a zoning petition from Charles D. Teague, et al, requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinances to clarify the existing law so that said law can be enforced by inserting text after Section 7.20 Illumination, with the existing test to be retained and labeled as Section 7.23 Lighting Restrictions for Residential Districts. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after June 17, 2013. Planning Board hearing held May 21, 2013. Petition expires Aug 19, 2013.

Manager’s Agenda #21. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the Planning Board recommendation on the Teague et al, Zoning Petition, which proposes new zoning standards regarding lighting.

Honestly, the whole premise of this petition is questionable. If indeed the problem of light intrusion onto residential properties is such a nuisance (and a case can be made that it is), the right approach would be to yank this out of the Zoning Ordinance and put it on a similar footing as the City’s Noise Ordinance. The Planning Board advises that the City Council direct the creation of a comprehensive lighting ordinance that would be incorporated into the Municipal Code separate from zoning.

Manager’s Agenda #23. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Council Order #10 of Nov 19, 2012, regarding a draft Polystyrene Food Container Ordinance, and input from the Recycling Advisory Committee (RAC).

Polystyrene here refers to expanded polystyrene (EPS) which is commonly referred to as Styrofoam. Though you might think this a slam dunk in terms of environmental desirability, the Recycling Advisory Committee had a long discussion on the pros and cons of the proposed ban of EPS in food establishments. It is true that there are potential health effects of hot beverages in EPS containers, but alternative containers do not necessarily provide a net environmental benefit. On balance, however, an EPS ban is both workable and likely to be well-received by most consumers.

Manager’s Agenda #25. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a response from City Solicitor Nancy E. Glowa to Council Orders Number 10, 11 and 12 of June 3, 2013 regarding a legal opinion on the following issues: 1) the expiration date on the Phillips Petition and whether if the petition is re-filed would the extension take the special permit decision of the Planning Board out of jeopardy; 2) how many times a petition can be filed on the same zoning petition (serial filings); and 3) whether it is legal to close Cottage Park Avenue and open Brookford Street.

Manager’s Agenda #26. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a response from City Solicitor Nancy E. Glowa to Council to Order O-4 of 4/29/13, regarding a report on clarifying the expiration date for Zoning Petitions filed in the City.

I will comment only on the last of these. The ambiguity between zoning petition expiration dates can be simply resolved via a minor change in the Zoning Ordinance. It’s baffling why no city councillor has yet proposed this solution.

Manager’s Agenda #27. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a response from Sam Lipson, Director of Environmental Health, to City Council Order O-9 from 10/4/10, regarding a review of the status of smoking in public parks and the efforts of the Smoking in Parks working group.

If I’m reading the proposed ordinance changes correctly, it is recommended that smoking be banned in a variety of places that are currently listed as exceptions in Chapter 8.28 of the Municipal Code. The additional prohibition would apply to any public place, municipal facility, municipal vehicle, public park, hotel, and to any outdoor sidewalk seating areas associated with a restaurant.

Charter Right #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-63, regarding a report on the progress on the non-zoning recommendations submitted by the Central Square Advisory Committee.

Charter Right #3. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-71, regarding a report on how the structure of boards and commissions can be adjusted.

Charter Right #5. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the Foundry Building "Reuse Study" prepared by HFMH Architects.

See the notes of the previous (June 24, 2013) City Council meeting for these items.

Applications & Petitions #5. A zoning petition has been re-filed by John Walker, et al., requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance to the Special District 2 (SD-2) zoning district in North Cambridge.

This appears to be a resubmission of the Phillips et al, Zoning Petition. As such the legal response in Manager’s Agenda #25 is relevant.

Resolution #57. Congratulating Patrick Barrett III and Norma Jean Bopp on the birth of their son, Jedidiah Shelby Barrett.   Councillor Cheung

I will add my congratulations to my good friend Patrick and his wife Norma Jean on our new Cambridge resident, Jedidiah – a native Cantabrigian.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Department of Public Works to explore the potential for a community composting initiative.   Councillor Cheung

I really don’t know what Councillor Cheung has in mind here. As a local composting guru, my advice is that any resident who can accommodate backyard composting should do this as their own "community composting initiative." If you want more community, invite your neighbors to contribute and help maintain your compost (and make use of the finished product). A pilot City-operated curbside composting program is also now being developed. What perchance does our good councillor propose in addition? It’s essential that there be people responsible for any composting operation including those in community gardens, and it is often the case that people do not take appropriate responsibility – even in active community gardens.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments as to the feasibility of installing side guards on all City-owned trucks to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety and to the feasibility of utilizing pylons as a means through which to separate cyclists from motor vehicles.   Councillor Cheung

I get worried whenever I see proposals like this. As a daily cyclist who prefers sharing the roadway with other vehicles, my first reaction to this proposal is that obstructions would now be in the roadway that could limit my mobility and lead to greater traffic congestion by constricting the roadway. As I have said repeatedly here and elsewhere, bicycles are vehicles just like motor vehicles, and the roadway is to be shared by all vehicles. Cyclists need to make the same turning movements as motor vehicles and the segregation of bicycles into narrow spaces conflicts with this. It also leads motor vehicle operators to not respect the right of cyclists to share the road. The only exception where separated facilities makes sense is on higher-speed roadways where the differential between typical bicycle speeds and motor vehicle speeds is very significant.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Law Department, the Information Technology Department and any other relevant departments to evaluate the feasibility of ensuring all city-sponsored committee meeting minutes are available online.   Councillor Cheung

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Information Technology Department as to the feasibility of making videos of City Council general and committee meetings downloadable by the general public.   Councillor Cheung

I frankly don’t believe there’s a lot of demand for this public information (except to occasionally create YouTube videos to embarass public officials). That said, if it’s simple and cheap enough to produce this form of public information, there’s no good reason why it shouldn’t be made available.

Order #15. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Director of Traffic Parking and Transportation and the Police Commissioner and report back to the City Council on the City’s efforts to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of current detours and traffic plans currently in place and our ability to adjust them if problems arise in relation to construction projects.   Councillor Toomey

This must surely be in response to the astonishing amount of bridge and tunnel rehabilitation work that is now occurring primarily in the eastern half of the city – most notably the Western Ave. project, the Longfellow Bridge traffic restrictions, and other planned work on the Charles River bridges. My prediction is that many people will bitch and moan and then find ways to live with it. Many will permanently change the way they commute for the better. All of this work is long overdue and necessary, and we should all be celebrating the fact that this neglect is finally being addressed.

Order #16. That the City Manager is requested to set up a $20,000 one-year Build Neighborhoods Fund from Community Benefits funds.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

I recall when you could request up to a $500 grant through the Community Oriented Policing (COP) program. If these funds were to support grafitti-removal, cleanup initiatives, or block parties, I don’t think anybody would object to the proposed program. On the other hand, I could easily see a politically-motivated group asking for support claiming they needed the money for "community purposes". If such a Fund is established, the rules for receiving grants should be made abundantly clear and all money should go to clearly charitable purposes.

Order #17. That the City Manager is requested to develop cost benefit analyses for at least five scenarios related to the Foundry Building.   Mayor Davis

If this interests you, there are upcoming City Council committee meetings on this matter on July 31 [Finance (Decker)], Aug 5 [Neighborhood and Long Term Planning (Cheung), and Economic Development, Training, and Employment (Toomey), and Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations (Reeves)], and on Sept 24 [Finance (Decker)].

Order #19. That the City Manager is requested to work together with the City of Cambridge Law Department to explore the establishment of an enforced open door while air condition prohibition for Cambridge, and when this prohibition is put in place, precede it’s installation with an awareness campaign through the Cambridge Energy Alliance and the new Community Compact for a Sustainable Future.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

Perhaps we should just have a single Anti-Stupidity Ordinance that includes a prohibition against spending absurd amounts of money on wasted heating and air conditioning. I can think of plenty of other clauses to add to the Anti-Stupidity Ordinance. Perhaps we can all pitch in with the drafting of the ordinance.

Order #20. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the rationale and thought process of the License Commission on the proposed increase of liquor license fees prior to the change taking effect.   Councillor Cheung

This is a good request. I expect there are some significant costs associated with all the new pouring licenses, and it would be good to hear an accounting of the additional staff requirements for the License Commission, Police Dept., and Fire Dept.

Order #21. That the City Manager is requested to set up a committee to work with the MBTA to ensure that the MBTA will continue to use all of the stops along the #1 Route and not eliminate any stops.   Councillor Reeves

The evaluation by the MBTA of the #1 Bus stops has been going on for the last couple of years and includes a number of sensible changes including the removal of some unnecessary bus stops. It’s a bit bewildering to see a City Council order arriving at this late date calling for all proposed efficiencies to be abandoned.

Order #22. That the City Manager is requested to set up a committee including the president of the tenant’s union, the chairperson of the Housing Committee, the chairperson of the University Relations Committee, and a representative of the City Manager to open up truthful communication with Harvard on their intentions of selling this building (2 Mt. Auburn St.).   Councillor Reeves

There has to be a back story behind this. The Order states that "Harvard University has blocked all meaningful communication between the University and the tenants union and blocked all meaningful communication with elected city officials and administrators of the city of Cambridge." That’s quite an accusation and we’re all eager to hear what it’s about and if there’s any truth to it.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk’s Office, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Civic Unity Committee for a public meeting held on June 18, 2013 to discuss the Monteiro case only as it pertains to any lessons learned.

Committee Report #9. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk’s Office, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Civic Unity Committee for a public meeting held on July 17, 2013 to continue discussions of lessons learned as it pertains to the Monteiro case.

I attended the latter of these two meetings and, after reading a summary of "lessons learned" stated in the former meeting, I offered a comment on one important "lesson learned" that had not previously been stated – namely that the City has to do whatever it can to protect itself against similar complaints and lawsuits in the future. More robust performance evaluations would be a good start. Though this seemed like a pretty obvious suggestion and one that I don’t believe had been mentioned previously, I was heckled by a well-known Brookford St. resident for speaking at all. So much for civic unity as preached by the "Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods."

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Mayor Henrietta Davis transmitting a letter from Jeffrey M. Young, Superintendent of Schools regarding responses to City Council Budget Questions.

Considering the fact that the questions posed to Superintendent Young were far longer than the answers provided, it’s a good bet that the disagreements between the City Council and School Committee during the recent Budget Hearings will continue into the planned Roundtable meetings in September and October and during next year’s budget cycle and beyond. – Robert Winters

July 24, 2013

Online Voter Registration Search Now Available

Filed under: Cambridge,elections — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 11:06 am

The City of Cambridge Election Commission is proud to announce the launch of the new Online Voter Registration Search. Voters will now be able to access a voter registration search page which has been added to the Election Commission website at

Voters will be prompted to enter their first name, last name and date of birth. If they are registered, they will be able to check the address where they are registered, active or inactive status, political party affiliation, elected officials and their polling place information, including a link to a map of the polling place.

For residents who are not registered in Cambridge, there is a link to a voter registration form that can be printed and mailed to the Election Commission.

For voters in the 5th Congressional district, the deadline to register to vote for the Oct 15, 2013 Special Primary is Sept 25, 2013 at 8pm. For all Cambridge voters, the deadline to register for the Nov 5, 2013 Municipal Election is October 16, 2013 at 8pm.

July 23, 2013

Cambridge LGBT Senior Information Fair Monday, July 29

Filed under: Cambridge — Robert Winters @ 12:59 pm

The Cambridge Council on Aging and the Cambridge GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) Commission are holding a LGBT Senior Information Fair on Monday, July 29, 2013, from 6-7:30 p.m., at the Cambridge Senior Center, at 806 Massachusetts Avenue. Light refreshments will be served, generously provided by Cadbury Commons, a residence for seniors). There will also be musical entertainment.

A number of organizations, including the LGBT Aging Project, AARP, Cambridge Human Services, Cambridge GLBT Commission and others will have representatives and information tables. This is an opportunity to socialize, eat and receive interesting and pertinent information. We encourage seniors, caregivers and friends to attend this fair.

The needs of LGBT seniors are often more extreme since they are more likely to have fewer family members to support them and even in Cambridge they may fear prejudice from service providers and caretakers. The LGBT Senior Fair supports the Cambridge Council on Aging’s continued commitment to create a culture of respect for diversity in the aging population.

For more information, please contact Alicia Johnson at 617-349-6220 or at

July 16, 2013

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cambridge Municipal Election Campaigns

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:31 pm

All’s fair in love and war and politics

Well, actually no. There are time-honored traditions in Cambridge municipal election campaigns – some based on tradition and basic courtesy, some based on the law, and some based on the practical politics of elections conducted using Cambridge’s proportional representation (PR) system with its transferable ballots. Here are some rules, regulations, courtesies, and practical suggestions for running a proper PR election campaign in way that will earn you friends and help you to not make enemies.

Don’t engage in negative campaigns. Unless you plan on sailing past the election quota with a surplus of #1 votes, you may need those transfer ballots from defeated candidates. If you attack another candidate whose supporters might have also liked you, then those voters may not list you as a next preference on their ballots. You may need those transfers, so if you must be critical try to be decent about it.

Introduce the competition. There is a long history of candidates attending campaign events for other candidates. Everybody benefits from this and it’s a necessary part of our election system where voters can rank as many candidates on their ballot as they please. If another candidate is very popular and earns a surplus of votes, you may want a share of those transferred surplus ballots. More significantly, if that other candidate is defeated while you’re still in the running, you will definitely want to be a beneficiary when all of that candidate’s ballots become available for transfer. This is one of the most important facts about PR elections. On the other hand, if you see a viable candidate, particularly an incumbent, coming to all your events, you may have every reason to believe that he is rooting for your defeat so that he can get your ballots. So….

Be skeptical of other candidates trying too hard to be your "friend." There’s a good chance that your new friend will be nudging you toward defeat while staying ahead of you in the Count. These new friends will usually be incumbents, but not always. On a positive note, some of your fellow candidates will become your good friends for decades to come. The shared experience of a political campaign can be a bonding experience. It can also leave hard feelings that may never go away.

Don’t steal the spotlight. If you attend the campaign events of other candidates, and you definitely should do this with candidates who have any sort of common appeal, you should never do any overt campaigning at another candidate’s event other than asking for a #2 vote behind the featured candidate. You should always be mindful of when it’s appropriate to campaign and when it’s not appropriate. Voters recognize and respect courtesy.

Those who try to assemble slates of candidates do this for themselves – not for you. That said, you might still derive benefits from being on a slate of candidates, especially if the slate is the invention of the candidates and not of some organization with their own agenda. The Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) successfully used slates of endorsed candidates from the 1940s through the end of the 20th Century to help elect candidates who might not necessarily have won with independent campaigns. It can be very effective, but you should probably be very skeptical of any group who promises you the world for being on their slate. It can also hurt you to be associated with an unpopular group.

MistakeDon’t put your flyers, bumper stickers, or any other campaign materials on utility poles, mailboxes, or any other location other than private property. Not only is this illegal, it is guaranteed to infuriate your fellow candidates. Voters also tend to respond negatively to this kind of aggressiveness. Bear in mind that it’s usually not the candidates who do this, but their loyal and overly zealous supporters. So… instruct your supporters to not do you any favors like this. If you discover any of your campaign stuff in places they don’t belong, remove it promptly.

Find your base. Every successful candidate builds his or her campaign on a base of voters who are most likely to cast their #1 votes for that candidate. If you have no base and think you can win on some kind of "broadcast" campaign where you deliver your brilliant message to a rapt audience who swoon on the magnificence of your words, think again. Most voters will cast their ballots based on some kind of affinity with a candidate. This might be based on some pressing issue of the day or the promise of great new ideas, but it is more likely that the basis will be such things as living in the same neighborhood, sharing some racial or ethnic heritage, sharing the same gender or sexual orientation, having attended high school together, or having spent time in the same places. Once you have identified your base of most likely voters, you can build from there.

SignsSigns don’t vote. This is one of the oldest sayings in Cambridge politics and probably everywhere else. During the days of rent control, this was especially true since landlords would often post signs outside their building even if all the tenants in the building were voting for the other candidates. It’s probably a good idea for new candidates to display some signs and bumper stickers just to get their names out in public. Like it or not, many voters will comment after an election that they never heard of you even if your name was on the ballot.

Spend your money wisely. There are some horror stories of Cambridge candidates who were essentially unknown who spent considerable money on citywide mailings to every registered Cambridge voter and who received fewer votes than the number of signatures on their nomination papers, i.e. less than 50. If you find yourself spending several hundred dollars per #1 vote, you are definitely doing something terribly wrong. Campaigns are not generally cheap, but you have to use your resources wisely by identifying your most likely voters and strategically going after them. This means maintaining a good database and making effective, repetitive contact with your most likely voters. As the story told by Tip O’Neil goes, "people like to be asked." There are some incumbent candidates who run very effective campaigns on a shoestring budget.

Be consistent. If you tell one voter how you feel about some controversial matter and then tell another voter something that contradicts this, you can generally count on those two voters or other voters eventually discovering your inconsistency. The last thing you need in a local election is for the word to spread that you’re dishonest. So just be truthful even if you think it might lose you a vote. You will likely make up for that with the votes of other people. If you choose to tell people only what you think they want to hear, they will see through you like clear glass – and they will also likely vote for another candidate who more sincerely agrees with them.

Above all, be a human being. Never forget that most voters will vote for candidates who they see as representative of themselves, and most people have primarily positive views of themselves. If you come across as arrogant, you will only earn the votes of arrogant voters. If people see the humanity in you, this will always work to your benefit. It will also be a lot easier to live with yourself – regardless whether you win or lose the election.

Any additions? This is just the first draft of what will likely be a growing list. – Robert Winters

July 15, 2013

Special State Election Calendar – Markey Seat

Filed under: elections — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 8:39 pm


Representative in Congress for Massachusetts
5th Congressional District*
(to fill vacancy caused by the resignation of Edward J. Markey)

Calendar of Events Deadline Dates
  Party Candidates Non-Party Candidates
Last day for a person running in the state primary to enroll in a party or for a person running only in the state election to unenroll from a party, except for newly registered voters. May 15, 2013 May 15, 2013
5:00PM last day and hour for submitting nomination papers to local Registrars of Voters or Election Commissioners for the certification of signatures. July 31, 2013 Sept 17, 2013
Certification of nomination papers must be completed. Aug 12, 2013 Sept 26, 2013
5:00PM last day and hour for filing nomination papers, including enrollment certificate, with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Aug 14, 2013 Oct 1, 2013
5:00PM last day and hour for filing withdrawals of or objections to all nomination papers and certificates of nomination with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Aug 16, 2013 Oct 3, 2013
5:00PM last day and hour for filling vacancies caused by withdrawals for primary candidates. Aug 20, 2013  
Last day to register voters for the state primary; registration hours 9:00AM to 8:00PM (except in towns under 1500 registered voters, registration hours 2:00-4:00PM and 7:00-8:00PM). Sept 25, 2013
State Primary Oct 15, 2013
5:00PM last day and hour for filing withdrawals of or objections to nominations made at the state primary and for filing written acceptances by write-in or sticker candidates who won in the state primary with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Oct 21, 2013
5:00PM last day and hour for filling vacancies caused by withdrawals at the state primary. Oct 22, 2013
Last day to register voters for the state election; registration hours 9:00AM to 8:00PM (except in towns under 1500 registered voters, registration hours 2:00-4:00PM and 7:00-8:00PM). Nov 20, 2013
State Election Dec 10, 2013

2,000 certified signatures required for all candidates.

Please see "A Candidate’s Guide to Special Elections" available from:
Elections Division
One Ashburton Place, Room 1705
Boston, Massachusetts 02108-1512
(617) 727-2828 or (800) 462-VOTE
For information about campaign contributions
and expenses please contact:
Federal Election Commission
999 East Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20463
(800) 424-9530
*Middlesex County     Suffolk County Worcester County
Wd. 3, Pct. 2A
Wd. 4, Pcts. 2, 3
Wds. 6, 7, 8, 9
Wd. 10, Pcts. 1, 2
Pcts. IA, 2, 3, 4, 5

July 12, 2013

Picnic in the Park – Saturday, July 13

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 8:25 am

Picnic in the Park

Vision Central Square’s

3rd Annual

Concert and Picnic in the Park

Featuring the Berlin Hall Orchestra

Bring a picnic, bring your friends, bring your kids and listen to music, relax, and play

Saturday July 13th, 4:00–6:30pm

University Park & Sidney Street

between Franklin & Pacific in Central Square

July 8, 2013

Luis Vasquez Officially Launches Campaign for City Council

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,City Council — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 11:01 pm

Luis VasquezOver 115 supporters gathered this past Sunday night (July 7) at the Midwest Grill on Cambridge Street to officially launch Luis Vasquez’ campaign bid for a seat on the Cambridge City Council.

"I want to represent possibilities," remarked Vasquez. "I want us to take this City by storm and create a Cambridge that is welcome to everyone, just like it used to. Why stop at affordable housing? Let’s take it a step further and fight for affordable living as a whole."

Vasquez emphasized the importance of civic engagement, "My name may be on those stickers, but this is a together thing. We are gathered here today because we love our community. Let’s make sure that nobody gets left behind on November 5th. I challenge you to find five people that are not registered to vote and you talk to them about why they should. I challenge you to find the voters that only vote every four years for the president and you tell them why they should vote this November, as I will be. Whether you vote for me or not, just make sure you show up at the polls. At the end of the day, if we can work through these challenges together, Cambridge wins."

Full story and pictures on Luis Vasquez’ Candidate Page.

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