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Why I’m Running for Cambridge City Council

Matt DeBergalis

My name is Matt DeBergalis, class of 2000, and I am running for Cambridge City Council to give students and young people a voice in Cambridge that will improve student life. With the help of MIT and Harvard voters, I will have the city encourage late night food options. I will pressure MIT to keep graduate student rents below market rate. I will dramatically improve bike safety, shuttle services, and late night bus and T service throughout Cambridge. And I will fight to preserve night life, and ensure that ManRay is the last Central Square club to be torn down, not the first.

Historically, MIT and Harvard students do not vote, and your City Councilors know this! They know that they can ignore students without concern that they will lose essential support in the election. They know that they should prioritize our generation below everyone else in Cambridge. They know that we don’t realize how much power the 15,000 students in Cambridge could have.

My platform is very different from the usual issues you’ll hear other candidates discuss. I am in favor of concrete changes that immediately benefit student life. Most importantly, I want to give us a voice at the table, and make it clear that we, as a group, must now be consulted on important decisions.

All MIT students that live in Cambridge are eligible to vote in the elections. Even if you just arrived last month, you can vote, as long as you intend on living here more than half the year. With the exception of Alaska, Delaware, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Virginia, you can vote here without jeopardizing your residency back home. Voting has absolutely nothing to do with taxes, scholarships or grants, your driver’s license, or jury duty. You cannot vote both here and at home on the same election day, but you can vote back home next year.

I cannot stress this last point enough. You are eligible to vote here, without affecting anything else whatsoever. Confusion about voting requirements is, in my mind, the biggest hurdle that lies in the way of having meaningful student representation in our city.

Many of our students come from some of the most important states in next year’s Presidential election. Because of how our Electoral College works, voters in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and other swing states have a far greater impact in the election than those of us who will vote in Massachusetts in 2004. Some of you also come from New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and other important primary states that will decide the Democratic nominee for the Presidency. Regardless of your political leanings, I want to see students maximize the value of their votes.

The law says that students are residents both here and back home, so you may vote in either place. I am asking for your vote here this November because the local Cambridge election has a tremendous impact on your daily lives at MIT. The week after the election, with plenty of time before the first primaries, my campaign staff will send all of our voters re-registration forms for their home states. You are of course free to remain registered here instead, but we want to make sure you have the option of voting back home in 2004.

Can just one person on the City Council make any difference? Absolutely. The City Councilors approve the city’s budget, pass the occasional law, and most importantly, advocate for their constituents. They request the City Manager (essentially, Cambridge’s hired CEO) to draft reports on various concerns. They ensure that city officials are looking out for their interests. Nearly every sitting councilor and candidate has told me they want to see students play a more important role in Cambridge, but the issues they spend most time on relate very little to us. I believe most Councilors will welcome someone who has a real understanding of what we want.

The voter registration deadline is Oct. 15. Every day between now and then, you’ll see me at events in different dorms and around campus. Please register to vote, and on Nov. 4, consider casting your number one vote for me, as a vote for student life and for a city where young people are an equal part of government.

For more information on Matt DeBergalis’s campaign, information on how to register, or to pledge your vote to him, please visit his Web site at, or e-mail him at