Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

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.

Mayor Henrietta Davis will not seek reelection to the Cambridge City Council

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 12:55 pm

Message from Mayor Davis

Mayor Henrietta DavisIt is not easy to make the decision to leave behind being a Cambridge City Councillor, a job I have loved, but after 8 years on the school committee and 18 years on the City Council-26 years in all– I’ve decided not to seek reelection. Thank you to my colleagues – past and present – and to the people of Cambridge for supporting me all of these years.

This recent term as Mayor has been especially gratifying. Despite the obvious challenges, there were many great days and opportunities to make a difference and to continue the mission of making Cambridge a better place.

I’m not planning to leave all the issues behind – I’ll still be fighting for equity and opportunity for all Cambridge citizens (especially young people), and making sure Cambridge continues to become a model for a healthy, sustainable city, and a community that is welcoming and supportive to all our residents.

But after thirteen successful elections I’m putting away my yard signs and leaving the campaign events to others.

I will miss walking up and down our beautiful streets and the face-to-face meetings with Cambridge residents at their homes and hearing their ideas and concerns.

I’m grateful to the voters of Cambridge who have given me the opportunity to serve, to have a career through which I could follow my passion, and make a difference locally and beyond. With six more months as Mayor, I look forward to serving the rest of the term, fully engaged. There’s a lot left to do this year. Then, the time will come to head in a new direction. Thank you Cambridge for what will be 26 great years.


July 5, 2013

Nadeem Mazen Kickoff Event July 13 – candidate for Cambridge City Council

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,Central Square — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:24 pm

Cambridge, MA – Nadeem Mazen, candidate for Cambridge City Council, will be holding his kickoff event July 13th, from 3:00pm-5:00pm, at Central Square restaurant ZuZu.

Nadeem MazenAt the ZuZu kickoff event, Nadeem will also be releasing The Cambridge Happy Streets Project, a free online interactive map exploring over 125 Cambridge resident and visitor interviews. Each interview investigates a community member’s happiness with Cambridge – what they appreciate about the city and what they wish could be changed.

Nadeem, a first-time candidate for City Council, is running on a platform of technology and media-based access to municipal government called Byte-Sized Politics, in which Cambridge’s unique innovative background is leveraged to make the city’s government more easily understood and engaged via new media and technologies.

Nadeem lives in Cambridgeport and owns two small businesses in Central Square. danger!awesome is a storefront for arts skill-sharing and professional development classes and specializes in developing educational media and interactive software. Nadeem moved to Cambridge over a decade ago to attend MIT.

The event is open to the public and will feature music, a cash bar, and free appetizers.

Facebook Event:

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