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Cambridge elects city council

Seven incumbents and political newcomers Sheila Russell and William Walsh were elected to two-year terms on the Cambridge City Council last week. Voters defeated the referendum proposal to amend the city's Human Rights Ordinance to define pornography as a violation of civil rights.

The amendment would have allowed people who believe they had been injured by sexual discrimination through pornography to sue its producers and distributors for civil damages.

The four incumbents endorsed by the liberal Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) -- Mayor Francis H. Duehay, Saundra Graham, David E. Sullivan '74, and Alice Wolf -- will all return to office, as will independents Thomas Danehy, Walter J. Sullivan and Alfred Vellucci. Russell and Walsh also ran as independents.

Independent incumbents Daniel Clinton and Alfred LaRosa failed in their bids for re-election, and eleven other challengers also lost.

The roughly equal division of power on the council between the CCA seats and the generally more conservative, blue-collar oriented independents remains numerically unchanged since the last election. But the platforms [el1p]of Walsh and Russell varied from those of the incumbents they will replace.

Walsh, an attorney, ran an outspoken campaign against rent controls and restrictions on condominium conversions. Russell, widow of former Mayor Leonard Russell, drew on regional support, particularly from northern Cambridge.

The third faction in the race, a new slate called Coalition '85, failed to place any of its three candidates on the council. Coalition '85 billed itself as an alternative to the "polarization" of the council between the CCA and independent sides, according to coalition member Hugh Russell's campaign literature.

Campaign spending became an issue when the CCA accused the real estate industry of heavy financial influence on the campaign. "Rent control is in danger this year from some people ... the real estate industry appears to be very active," said ex-CCA president Fred Levy.

Walsh may have set a city record for campaign spending -- he estimated his expenses at close to $40,000 -- according to yesterday's Cambridge Chronicle. The three Coalition '85 candidates together spent over $17,000, while the CCA spent about $10,000 to back its 11 candidates (including School Committee candidates), [el1p]the Chronicle said.

The city's unusual system of "proportional representation," under which voters rank candidates preferentially, affected the competition for council seats. This system allows some candidates to receive the support of weaker ones who are eliminated, concentrating voter support for candidates with similar positions behind the strongest.

Only Walter Sullivan, Duehay and David Sullivan received enough first-choice votes to win election in the first round of ballot counting. The nine candidates (Please turn to page 2)

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who received the most first choices were all eventually elected, but proportional representation altered their relative strengths during the count.

For example, Saundra Graham received many transfers from losing CCA candidates and was the fifth to accumulate the required quota of votes, although she finished ninth in number of first choices.

Incumbents Fred Fantini, Joe Maynard, Jane Sullivan and Fran Cooper and challengers Larry [el1p]Weinstein and Sara Garcia were elected to the School Committee. The CCA endorsed Cooper, Weinstein and Garcia.

On a second, nonbinding referendum, voters opposed the testing of nerve gas in Cambridge. They also defeated the third referendum, a nonbinding proposal to restrict Harvard University from selling university-owned, rent-controlled houses to faculty members who would occupy them, removing them from rent control.