Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

August 1, 2013

The Rumors Are Flying – Candidates for 2013

The Rumors Are Flying – Candidates for 2013 (originally posted Jan 19, most recent update Aug 1)

Not a day goes by these days without my being asked who the candidates will be this year for Cambridge City Council and Cambridge School Committee. [Why do they ask me?] Anyway, let’s just put all this on the table – rumored candidates, confirmed candidates, rumored vacancies, etc. We’ll update this as unnamed candidates sheepishly emerge and named candidates angrily deny. This way it will all be on the table.

City Council

Incumbents expected to seek reelection: Leland Cheung, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Kenneth E. Reeves, E. Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Minka vanBeuzekom.

Verified challengers: Dennis Benzan, Dennis Carlone, Janneke House, James Lee, Logan E. Leslie, Nadeem Mazen, Marc McGovern, Gary Mello, Gregg Moree, Ron Peden, Lesley Phillips, Sam Seidel, Jefferson Smith, Luis Vasquez, Kristen von Hoffmann, James Williamson, Elie Yarden, Mushtaque Mirza

Possible challengers: Eric Macomber, Doug Brown, Dylan Rykerson

Not running: Marjorie Decker (incumbent), Joseph "Slugs" Aiello, Larry Ward, Tom Stohlman, Mike Connolly, Henrietta Davis, Matt Nelson

School Committee

Incumbents expected to seek reelection: Alfred E. Fantini, Richard Harding, Patricia Nolan, Mervan Osborne

Verified challengers: Fran Cronin, Joyce Gerber, John Holland, Elechi Kadete, Kathleen Kelly

Possible challengers:

Incumbent who will attempt to jump to City Council: Marc McGovern

Not running: Joseph "Slugs" Aiello, Emily Dexter, James Lee, Elie Yarden, Alice Turkel

Feel free to submit the names of any other rumored or actual candidates. [If there’s someone you would like to see as a candidate. we can create a category for that too. Maybe we can recruit some good candidates that way!] If you are a rumored or actual candidate, feel free to confirm or deny your candidacy. If you would like to be added as a rumored or actual candidate, just click on my initials and let me know. – RW

You can also just spill the beans in the comments below.

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2013

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


  1. I’m pleased to be running for re-election and happy to confirm the rumours.

    Comment by minka vanbeuzekom — January 19, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

  2. I’m running and thanks for not putting perennial after my name. I have a strict three strike rule: If I swing and miss at something three times, I’m out.

    I see there are no women on the City Council challenger list. I hope this changes soon.

    PR is a wonderful way to elect people. I always say it is designed to assure that any given body truly represents the voters. Voters are individuals, unique, and complex. But if all registered voters voted strictly by declared gender, there would be 4 women, 4 men, and 1 gender-neutral person on the Council.

    Of course if registered voters voted for their age-peers, we’d easily have 4 councillors under 30, but we only have one.

    I know this isn’t helping my cause, but women and young-uns take note.

    Comment by Tom Stohlman — January 19, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  3. I am 24 and intend to run for something as soon as I move back to Cambridge. My good friend Luis Vasquez is rumored as a candidate and he is 25. I am actually pleasently surprised that a good number of my friends are politically active in Cambridge and aware of the local issues and personalities-bodes well for the future. Good to see Marc McGovern considering a move to the council, he has been a fantastic leader on the School Committee.

    Comment by James Conway — January 19, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

  4. Where is G. Mello?

    I’d like to know more about these new challengers as most I’ve never heard from. Who are the down zoners? Which ones think a moratorium is a terrific idea? Which ones want to occupy something? Is “no money” really “no money?” Does that mean he won’t take a salary? I need more information Dr. Winters. I also heard that I was running for council, but that can’t be true or my wife would have told me.

    Comment by patrick barrett — January 19, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

  5. edit those damn posts! I’m typing on my Surface (yeah I bought one. I own a Zune too… wana fight?)

    Comment by patrick barrett — January 19, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

  6. A few responses:
    1) Thanks for the confirmation, Minka.

    2) Tom, there’s no way you could ever be a “perennial” candidate. Even when you haven’t run a strong campaign, you were always a serious and credible candidate. And you still are, even when I disagree with you.

    3) James C – I’ve always understood that you’d be on the ballot one day. Maybe next time around we’ll see people like you, Slugs Aiello, and some serious, thoughtful campaigners in the mix. I hope we get that this year, but the jury is still out.

    4) Patrick, I’ve seen Gary Mello at many City Council meetings over this past year, but attendance is not the same as candidacy and I haven’t heard a word from him or about him. That said, it’s interesting that some of the rumored candidates have been showing up at various Council and Planning Board meetings lately. The trouble is that I think most of them are competing for the same slice of pie, and that slice may not be as big as they think it is. [By the way, I deleted your aborted previous post since everything in it made it to the completed one.]

    5) Apologies to those candidates who were not yet ready to be “outed”, but we really have to get things started sooner or later and you might actually pick up a little support this way.

    Comment by Robert Winters — January 19, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

  7. Thanks for the mention, Robert. I’ll be on the ballot very soon. Just not this time around.

    Oh, and I’m against anything to do with down-zoning and the moratorium is a TERRIBLE idea. Just getting that out there now.

    Comment by Joseph Aiello — January 20, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

  8. I’m with you on the absurdity of the threatened moratorium. Those who are proposing it are pretty classic conservatives – even though many of them self-identify politically with The Left. So let’s call them The New Conservative Left. They include many an aging former hippie who was fortunate enough to buy a single-family or two-family home in Cambridge back when it was cheap to do so. Their homes have now swelled in value and newcomers are bidding up the prices on a limited supply of housing options. The only way to relieve that pressure is to provide other housing options – either in Cambridge or nearby.

    The New Conservative Leftists refuse to evaluate proposals on their merits and choose instead to ban all change. They use fear to sell their message. The great red herring in their rhetoric is their call for “a master plan” before any zoning is changed or any new construction takes place. The long history of the Cambridge Planning Board is one of an evolving plan for the city. Once upon a time that plan called for new highways and other things that we would rebel against today. That was the Master Plan of its time. In recent years there has been a very clear emphasis on good urban design, walkable and bikeable streets, a focus on alternative transportation, and a heavy dose of sustainability built into almost every new major project and zoning amendment. That’s a pretty good Master Plan. I still find it very telling that the New Conservative Left favors surface parking lots over modest-scale housing situated close to public transit. It seems to me that the moratorium advocates are the ones who need a master plan. The Planning Board seems to be doing just fine in comparison.

    Comment by Robert Winters — January 20, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

  9. Well typed, Dr. Winters. It would figure though that a candidate opposed to downzoning also isn’t in the running. I’ve been thinking about this “Master Plan” argument for a while now, and on the face of it, if you know nothing about Cambridge or development, it sounds like a reasonable position. The C2 advisory board just offered the city a “master plan” by way of recommendations and guidelines that are far more future proof than the tablet of stone approach. Councillor Kelley ought to remove the word “perpetuity” from his lexicon and maybe brush up on property law 101, but I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and stay away from the prescriptive sideline quarterback.

    Minka might also recognize that there have been so many studies performed on Central Square that one could look back on them all as proof positive that “perpetuity” is a oft poorly respected word. She recommended a traffic study, I’m surprised she didn’t offer the people’s popular front’s version. Mass. Ave. is crowded, but we made it so. I don’t think there is a person I heard from who’d like Mass. Ave. to return to a speedway. Turning down #20 in the Forbes top 100 best employers whose mandate is to “cure cancer” to appease one’s base is so disappointing to me. Menino has to be scratchin’ his head wondering why he hasn’t decimated Cambridge yet.

    We are literally trying to figure out if a developer, who was given a mandate in the 80’s to develop University Park, who then underbuilt commercial at the city’s request, then exceeded the residential build by 70%, leaving roughly 300k sq ft on the table, whether or not they can have an extra 100k sq ft in a BB zone to accommodate the #20 best employer, a Cambridge-based company trying to cure cancer (see: not causing it). I’m baffled. Further they are adding 15k sq ft of street level subsidized commercial storefront that the City told them to build… I know I said I wouldn’t sideline quarterback but this has got to be the biggest no-brainer in the history of the city (though I’d turn to the historians for a more accurate finding).

    In the face of this they ask for more low income housing, for the existing low income to be so in “perpetuity” see: property law 101, yet another study, and all the while assured us that no moratorium is in the pipe (Reeves I’m looking at you sir). My favorite part of the narrative is that Forest City initially came in with a plan they could build by right, and we asked them to add the residential and commercial components, and they hung them out to dry when they complied! They’re a broken record of “more low income housing” ad infinitum; not once have I heard any of them lament the loss of market rate units crucial to turning Central Square around. Maybe we deserve to get our butts kicked a little bit for being so arrogant, ignorant, and greedy.

    Comment by patrick barrett — January 20, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

  10. Thanks for the kind words Robert, we disagree on a few Cambridge related and a few national issues but this site is a civic treasure and on the merits of local policy we are usually in agreement. I appreciate that Craig Kelley has been a voice for North Cambridge which was the victim of a lot of zoning decisions over the years when we had no voice on the council, particularly the area between Porter Square and the Arlington line on Mass Ave. But there should be more flexibility around Central Square. I was heartened to see some gentrification in Inman and parts of East Cambridge, as long as their is balance between local institutions and needs as well as the need for new people than that is the way to go.

    I also appreciate the ‘conservative’ epithet. Too many on the Council are unaware that young people want a city where you can have BYOB in restaurants, more bars, more nightlife options, and the right to get noisy every now and then. Most small business owners and property owners I’ve talked to have lamented that the city is behind the times in updating its regulations and streamlining the process. Its not just Menino but Curtatone beating us to to innovations and improvements. Considering the Kennedy School and GSD are in our backyards I am surprised we have not become a leader and not just a follower in smart growth and urban policy innovation. That said there is a lot that we do right, its a unique place, and I should be back by 2014-though I may be priced into one of our neighbors.

    Comment by James Conway — January 22, 2013 @ 11:02 pm

  11. That said Kendall has really picked up since I moved away, I’ve been back a few times now and there are great bars (Mead Hall is a personal fave), more residents, and more cultural and retail options beyond the Cinema and Galleria. So if we can use that as a benchmark for Central we can do great things. For what its worth my fiancee, a native Chicagoan, was not a fan of Harvard Square at all but loved Central and Inman, which reminded her of some vibrant neighborhoods out here. So there is a lot of neat energy that can be tapped into, its good we are moving beyond ‘the’ square to appreciate all the squares and neighborhoods and what they can offer. I also like that Northpoint was conceived as an intentional family friendly community. Too much of the post RC development attracted young urban professionals who moved elsewhere when they got families. The strong success story of CRLS and CPD under the leadership of Dr. Young and the School Committee as well as intentionally planning for families can do a lot to bring new families in and old families back.

    Comment by James Conway — January 22, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

  12. One of the best things about Cambridge is that care is taken to create space for a wide variety of preferences without too much invasion on the space of others. Some of this is handled by zoning regulations, some is handled by the License Commission, and some of the newly invented venues owe their existence to initiatives from the City Council as well as property owners and business associations. Most things mesh together pretty well.

    Some of the new bars, restaurants, and other spots in Kendall Square are great for the hipsters and dipsters, though you’ll rarely find me in those places. I live in a small mixed-use zone that can handle a cafe, a fabric/sewing place, and some school-like uses, but it would be horrible if there were bars or entertainment venues here. There are rules in Central Square that encourage entertainment venues but limit where their entrances can be located in order to protect the sanity of residential neighbors. Nothing’s perfect, but I don’t fear that Cambridge will ever become intolerable.

    The main thing I find unfortunate is that the cafes, high-end restaurants, entertainment venues, etc. tend to push out basic retail and other essentials. We used to have a few army/navy type stores where you could buy the basics. Affordable supermarkets have given way to Whole Foods (a.k.a. Whole Paycheck) markets. I tend to run into more Cambridge people when I shop at the Market Basket in Somerville than I ever meet in a Cambridge store. Zoning and licensing are generally good tools for preventing what you don’t want, but they do little to deliver the things that you DO want.

    Comment by Robert Winters — January 23, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

  13. The Market Basket statement is very true, its where my mom runs into her old friends and parents of my friends. Incidentally its where most of my classmates at U Chicago who went to graduate programs at MIT or Harvard also shop. Cambridge could definiely use more affordable grocery stores and retail and that is just as important as affordable housing in keeping working families in Cambridge and attracting more in the future. I was saddened to see Johnnie’s Foodmaster acquired by Whole Foods, I am sure they were profitable but its getting rather expensive to operate a mid tier regional grocery store with distribution networks run nationally. Food desserts are a big issue in Chicago and one could argue Central and East Cambridge are in terms of affordability. The key is balance, I’m a fourth generation Cantab and remember being raised by older relatives to take the ‘town’ side against the ‘gown’ and against ‘yuppies’, and that was clear during the Wolf v. Galluccio primary which might have been the last utterance of that futile feud. But the key is to get the different blocks working together, our working class now is no longer exclusively white ethnics with my background but includes a true rainbow coalition of first generation immigrants from around the world along with young professionals. I think we have begun to solve the problems of our public schools and stabilized the high school and will soon have stabilized the middle schools and ensure they grow robustly and attract a mixture of families. They key now is closing the achievement gap there and closing the affordability gap with housing. I am still shocked Cambridge has been insulated from the real estate bubble bursting in the rest of the country, so the market by itself is unlikely to bring costs down but we can’t reinstate rent control either so again a balanced course will be required and I’m cautiouslly optimistic we will have the leadership to pursue that.

    Comment by James Conway — January 25, 2013 @ 10:42 am

  14. What are the criteria, if any, for placing “perennial” after a candidate’s name?
    (Is personal animosity enough?)
    How many times do you get to be a “candidate” forever in Cambridge if you’re an “incumbent,” without evidently ever risking this sobriquet at the Robert Winters blog?

    Comment by James Williamson — January 25, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

  15. In Cambridge municipal elections, like baseball, less than 200 #1 votes puts you below the Mendoza line.

    Garnering less than 100 #1 votes is another story. There’s a name for that line, too.

    Getting less that 50 votes means you don’t even get a transfer round named in your honor.

    Comment by Robert Winters — January 30, 2013 @ 10:57 am

  16. Speaking of less expensive grocery options, is it true that the
    Foodmaster on Beacon Street just outside of Inman Square is closing
    (or already closed)?

    And not to get too nostalgic but what happened to Aram’s at the corner
    of Prospect & Cambridge? That’d been there since I was a kid in the 70s.

    Comment by Fred Baker — February 6, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

  17. Though it’s quite off topic, the answer to Fred’s question is that Foodmaster is no more. I believe it’s going to become another Whole Paycheck (a.k.a. Whole Foods) market. Fortunately, the back entrance to Market Basket is just over the Dane St. bridge.

    I used to get cheese steak subs at Aram’s all the time. Pretty soon all we’ll have left will be upscale cafes for metrosexual hipster fashionistas with their red sneakers, their MacBooks, their iThings, and their apps. Ugh!

    Comment by Robert Winters — February 7, 2013 @ 10:56 am

  18. Its interesting Robert, as a townie in Cambridge I always lamented the closing of local institutions and as a ‘gownie’ in Hyde Park Chicago I wanted a greater variety of funkier ‘yuppie’ places since all we had were local joints (not all of em great) and I missed the diversity of options Cambridge had. Again its important to pursue balance. And a big thing for me is that the places are locally owned, Dunkins serves a blue collar crowd and Starbucks serves a white collar crowd but I’d take Verna’s and 1369 over either any day of the week. Its also interesting to see how older places reinvent themselves like Saccos and Mikes in Davis or Cambridge Common, which used to be a Franks knock off but now serves a great craft beer selection as well as its neighborhood clientele.

    Unfortunately the market determines this, we can’t subsidize small businesses, even in the Peoples Republik, but we can definitely ease the reuglatory burdens they have to face and make it easier for them to compete. A big reason chain stores are hard to compete with is due to easier access to supply chains and scale. If we want to level the playing field we should establish some way for local businesses to get fast tracks through regulatory and licensing regimes (without compromising their purpose i.e health inspection) and perhaps find a way to cut local business and property taxes for mom and pop operations. If we can fund a seperate Peace Commission and Nuclear Disarmament Commission we can certainly have a local business task force, and maybe coordinate it with the Cambridge First initiative. We should also enlist the local universities as partners, get them to bring in local businesses where possible, say an Anna’s over another Chipotle in a food court or encourage students to use local businesses. The U Chicago student government worked with Hyde Park to get a 10% discount scheme to entice students to keep their dollars in Hyde Park rather than downtown or elsewhere. It also worked to renovate an abandoned movie theatre. I could easily see us doing that, and think keeping not just housing but affordability in a broad sense at the forefront should be at the top of any prospective candidates agenda.

    Comment by James Conway — February 19, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  19. Also in the spirit of the Peoples Pledge in the recent Senate election, I would ask that all candidates commit to an issues based campaign, avoid personal attacks, fearmongering, and negativity and focus on the core issues facing Cantabrigians and the positive ways a candidates unique experience and ideas can help lead on those issues and shape the debate. Its electorally foolish in a PR system to run a negative campaign anyway, but I’ve seen it happen and I’ve seen lots of divisive debate over trivial issues in my day so focusing on what actually matters for our future is incredibly important. So far we’ve had two candidates post here, I ask them to make this pledge and ask all candidates to keep it. Perhaps Robert can enforce it 😉

    Comment by James Conway — February 19, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

  20. Why “slugs” ????

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — March 11, 2013 @ 10:35 am

  21. I believe Kathleen Kelly for School Committee is now verified? At least it seemed that way at Marc McGovern’s campaign launch event 🙂 Best,


    Comment by Quinton Zondervan — April 16, 2013 @ 11:40 am

  22. The second commenter with the handsome face is wrong, I have decided it would be a better use of my summer to help Janneke House get elected. I am really happy more young-uns and women are filling out the field. The formal announcement(s) are coming soon!

    And thanks again for curating the Candidate’s Page.

    Comment by Tom Stohlman — June 13, 2013 @ 7:34 am

  23. Mike Connolly has also withdrawn (June 14) as a City Council candidate.

    Comment by Robert Winters — June 14, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

  24. As of today (July 3rd), I have withdrawn as a candidate for School Committee.

    Comment by Joseph Aiello — July 3, 2013 @ 11:41 am

  25. Joe – I greatly look forward to your future candidacy. You’ve been a great addition to the City of Cambridge.

    Comment by Robert Winters — July 3, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

  26. Robert – Thank you. This was not an easy choice to make, but it was the best one for me at the moment. Cambridge deserves candidates who can put everything they have into a campaign.

    Comment by Joseph Aiello — July 3, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

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