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Circus at the Council

The protracted Cambridge mayoral battle, resulting in the election of Anthony D. Galluccio as mayor and David Maher as Vice-Mayor, raises several important concerns regarding the election process and the representation of ideological diversity on the City Council’s new leadership.

The election process, which took one and one-half months and five ballots, and concluded shortly before 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday after a marathon council meeting, was shameful. The circus-like atmosphere in the Sullivan Chamber, complete with the requisite wheeling and dealing and the stench of backroom politics, damages the efficiency of the Council and impairs its ability to now move forward on more substantive issues. Future councils should not allow the process to lapse into February, and instead must move quickly and fairly to install the city’s leadership.

The lack of ideological diversity among the Council’s new leadership is also a problem. Presently, there are five progressive councillors and four moderates; fairness would dictate that on such a divided council, each group would elect a member of the leadership. Tuesday morning’s election, however, gave both offices to so-called Independents and shut progressives out of the Council leadership.

The mayoral election was a death sentence for the gasping Cambridge Civic Association, once the city’s liberal powerhouse. Two of the three CCA councillors, Henrietta Davis and Jim Braude, defected from fellow CCA progressive Kathleen Born to vote for the moderate Galluccio.

One promising feature from earlier mayoral ballots was the groundswell of support for Kenneth Reeves, a liberal councillor unaffiliated with the CCA. With the CCA’s disintegration, Reeves’s strong progressive voice is needed now more than ever.

Students who supported the candidacy of Erik C. Snowberg ’99 should be concerned with the lack of poltical balance among the Council’s new leaders. Snowberg aligned himself with the liberal CCA bloc and embraced progressive issues such as affordable housing and rent control. An unfortunate consequence of progressives’ absence from the new leadership team is that students’ concerns are locked out too.

The Tech has additional concerns about the new mayor and vice-mayor as well. Anthony Galluccio is far from our ideal mayoral candidate. Galluccio is no champion of affordable housing, a particularly important issue to graduate students. He is known for his close links to developers, and raised eyebrows recently by engineering the exclusion of two blocks on Binney Street from a petition temporarily barring large developments from East Cambridge.

We are also concerned about Councillor David Maher’s qualifications for the office of Vice Mayor. While Maher has served as a member of the Cambridge School Committee, this is his rookie term on the City Council. A more expereinced member, perhaps a foil to Galluccio, would have been a better choice.

We can but hope that Mayor Galluccio fulfills his somewhat vague promise that his “door will be open” to all our councillors, including his progressive colleagues. It is vital to ensure that the Council’s five liberals -- and their constituents -- are heard by the new leaders.