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No Major Surprises in Cambridge Council Elections

By Frank Dabek

A large field made for an extremely close race for Cambridge City Council this year, but one devoid of major surprises.

Only Vice Mayor Anthony Galluccio was able to exceed quota on the first count with 2,716 first place votes. The next councilor, Katherine Born, was not elected until the 12th count.

Low voter turnout may have contributed to the tight race -- only 18,777 Cantabridgians went to the polls this year. The 200 or so MIT students who voted at Kresge auditorium dwarfed the turnout in previous years, however.

Those students weren’t enough to elect challenger Erik C. Snowberg ’99 who was counting on an unprecedented student turnout to win a seat. Snowberg received 429 first place votes and finished in 13th place.

Aside from the low student turnout (a far cry from the 2,000 students his campaign claims to have registered), Snowberg was crippled by his inability to capitalize on Cambridge Civic Association coattails. Because fellow CCA slate candidates Katherine Born, Henrietta Davis, and Jim Braude were not elected until after Snowberg was eliminated, he was not able to receive their transfer votes. He did, however, receive a number of transfers from the unofficial “rent control” slate of David Hoicka and James Williamson. Most of Snowberg’s transfers went, not surprisingly, to fellow CCA endorsees led by Braude.

Three new faces joined the Cambridge City Council this year: Marjorie Decker, James Braude, and David Maher.

Two new council members were guaranteed as a result of the retirement of Mayor Francis Duehay and Sheila Russell but David Maher managed to squeeze out incumbent Katherine Triantafillou to finish ninth. Triantafillou accumulated more first place votes (1,176) than Maher (1,040) but strong transfer numbers (substantially from fellow North Cambridge based candidate Galluccio) pushed him ahead by the sixth count.

Ken Reeves ran solidly this year after a mild scare two years ago. Reeves picked up 1,431 first place votes.

One mild surprise was the poor turnout for Helder “Sonny” Peixoto whose all out yard-sign blitz was expected to bring in more than a meager 315 first place votes. Peixoto and Toomey skirmished several times during the election and the appearance of a head to head competition turned out to be not totally imagined -- Toomey was the leading recipient of Peixoto transfer votes.

Mayor Galluccio?

The new council will next turn its attention to choosing Cambridge’s mayor. The strong running Galluccio is the obvious choice especially with only three of the five CCA candidates elected this year.

This election only furthers persistent rumors of the CCA’s demise. The traditionally strong progressive organization is being eroded from both sides of the spectrum -- liberal, pro rent control forces are bailing out on the left while more moderate voters aren’t buying into the group’s affordable housing and limited development message.

The bottom line for the new council: the strength of Galluccio and entrance of Maher makes for a more moderate body by Cambridge standards.