Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

September 28, 2013

Candidates Night Out

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:59 am

Sept 27 – There was a City Council Candidate Forum tonight – the first of the season – sponsored by the East Cambridge Planning Team and held at the Dante Alighieri Society Center at Hampshire and Portland Streets in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood of Cambridge. All 25 City Council candidates were there – a full banquet. One thing you have to understand about candidate forums, especially the first of the campaign, is that it’s not especially important WHAT the candidates say, but HOW they connect with the audience. Nonetheless, reporters will likely give detailed accounts of candidate statements, size up the candidates accordingly, and thereby completely miss the point.

The candidates who have a chance of being elected are the ones who actually speak directly to the audience without sounding as though they’re reading from note cards. They address their audience and appeal to them in human terms. The better candidates also say substantive things without being evasive. This projects both competence and honesty.

ECPT Candidate Forum

At the risk of appearing to play favorites, the candidates who were most successful at tonight’s forum were (in no particular order) Ken Reeves, Mark McGovern, Denise Simmons, Dennis Benzan, Leland Cheung, Tim Toomey, and David Maher. Also showing promise were Minka vanBeuzekom, Craig Kelley, Dennis Carlone, Logan Leslie, Luis Vasquez, Jefferson Smith, and Sam Seidel. To a lesser degree, Nadeem Mazen and Ron Peden also had some good moments. This is not to say that the other candidates were especially dreadful (well, maybe one or two) – just that they didn’t especially connect with the audience at this event. This will likely change in subsequent forums, especially next week’s MCNA Forum at Cambridge College where candidates will talk with individual voters around tables. Some candidates do much better in direct conversation than they do addressing an entire room.

Questions posed to the candidates included such topics as affordable housing, transportation, the City Manager and city government, funding for school construction, and perceived dysfunction of the current City Council. They were also asked to comment briefly on the season’s most overblown issue, the "Net Zero Petition," and relatively few candidates offered unqualified support. The two challengers who appear to be running the strongest campaigns were both clearly opposed to this petition as currently written.

The audience at this event was, as is often the case, largely composed of people who were there supporting particular candidates, but there were definitely some non-affiliates at the forum who were there to actually learn about the candidates. The event was recorded by CCTV and should be viewable soon either on Cable TV or via the CCTV website. – Robert Winters

ECPT Candidate Forum

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: