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Two MIT Alumni to Run For City Council in Fall

By Frank Dabek


Two recent MIT graduates have thrown their hats into the Cambridge City Council race.

Matthew S. DeBergalis ’99 and Aimee L. Smith PhD ’02 have announced their intention to enter a field of up to 20 candidates each seeking a spot on the nine-member council.

DeBergalis, who majored in Courses VI (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and XVIII (Mathematics), is running on a platform of bicycle safety, affordable housing, and influence over the Cambridge Licensing Commission. His campaign is focussed on civic participation by students. “If 3,000 students vote, even for someone else,” the campaign will be a success, he said.

Smith’s campaign theme is influenced by her role as one of the campus’s most outspoken activists. Smith, a Course III (Materials Science and Engineering) graduate, hopes to “create community that is going to be able to make demands for change” by running for council. Smith’s platform includes support for rent control, protection of immigrant rights, and an increased focus on the influence of universities on the city.

All nine incumbent councillors have announced their intention to run for reelection, making the task of these recent students seeking office in a city often openly hostile to the universities it hosts even more difficult.

However, Cambridge’s proportional representation system of voting guarantees that any minority group of a sufficient size can elect a representative. Students, should they defy historical trends and turn out at the polls, easily constitute such a group. Slightly more than 1,700 first-place votes were necessary for election to the city council in the last election; more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students are enrolled at MIT alone.

The last recent or current MIT students to run for the council were Erik Snowberg ’99, who received 429 first-place votes in 1999 and finished as the 13th most popular candidate and Steven Jens ’98, who received 278 first-place votes in 2001 running on a libertarian platform.