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CCA slate endorses rent control, liberal platform

By Katie Schwarz

The Cambridge Civic Association (CCA), a long-established political force in the city, has endorsed six City Council candidates on a generally liberal platform supporting the continuation of rent control.

CCA candidates have traditionally run on abstract issues such as equal opportunity, rather than emphasizing service to particular neighborhoods, in contrast to the more neighborhood-oriented independents.

Outgoing CCA president Frederick Levy described the organization as "generally liberal, good government oriented" with a philosophy of "fairness, openness, decency and professionalism" in government. CCA's endorsement helps candidates attract liberal voters, who represent roughly half the city's electorate, Levy said.

"The right to decent housing for all Cambridge citizens is the cornerstone of CCA's policies," states the association's platform. CCA supports controls on industrial development if it "threatens to erode neighborhood character and narrow the range of housing options," the platform continues. Tenants and property owners must be protected from speculative pressure on housing prices, which drives up rents and taxes, it asserts.

CCA sees a threat to tenants from the real estate industry this year, alleging that the industry has played a large financial role in the campaign. "Rent control is in danger this year," Levy said. The CCA perceives a long-term need for rent control because "we look at [housing] like a public utility," he explained.

CCA-endorsed incumbents include:

O+ Mayor Francis H. Duehay, who has served on the council since 1971, longer than any other CCA candidate. Duehay, a supporter of linkage, believes the city may wield considerable influence over MIT's development of Simplex through zoning laws. "The city has enough high tech office space and hotels. We need more housing," he said.

O+ David E. Sullivan '74, who has served three terms and wrote the ordinance to prevent conversion of rent-controlled apartments to condominiums. Sullivan has been an active, vocal supporter of rent control, and introduced a linkage proposal which was defeated in the council by one vote.

O+ Saundra K. Graham, a state representative as well as city councillor. Graham believes more housing should be produced, and favors inclusionary zoning and linkage.

O+ Alice K. Wolf, who has served one term. Wolf emphasizes controlling commercial development because "a number of areas in the City require zoning changes to keep new development in scale and in character with the surrounding neighborhoods," her campaign literature states.

CCA-endorsed challengers include:

O+ Kenneth Reeves. Reeves suggests that the city itself should build housing, and that universities' payments in lieu of taxes should be larger.

O+ Renae Scott. Scott stresses "accessibility and accountability" of government, and feels that she would be a voice for change. She would like linkage proposals requiring developers to provide money for services as well as housing, and endorses the Simplex Steering Committee plan for Simplex development. She supports downzoning "so we don't look like Boston or New York."

CCA was founded 40 years ago to rid city government of corruption, according to Levy. It now concerns itself with the professional management of city departments, watching against patronage and unfair hiring practices, he said.

The CCA endorsement process is initiated by the candidates, Levy continued. Candidates ask the organization for its endorsement, which is granted if they answer questions on their positions to the satisfaction of screening committees.