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Rent Control Initiative Defeated in Election

By Frank Dabek


Rent control forces suffered a major defeat in this week’s elections. A ballot question that would have forced the Cambridge city council to ask the state government for permission to reinstitute rent-control was handily defeated with “no” garnering 61 percent of votes.

The initiative was given a slim chance of success since it needed to clear two hurdles to return rent control to Cambridge: getting the votes of one-third of all registered voters and gaining approval from the state legislature.

But receiving the support of less than half of voters who turned out at the polls shows a surprising lack of support for the perennial Cambridge issue.

Aimee L. Smith PhD ’02, a city council candidate who supported rent control, said that the result “doesn’t mean that a majority of the city doesn’t want” rent control. Smith said that heavy spending by opponents of rent control and objections to the particular form of rent control in the petition led voters to reject the ballot question.

Smith campaign gets 480 votes

Smith’s campaign received 480 first place votes. We’re “very happy” with the results, Smith said.

Smith said that, despite not winning a council seat, her campaign “brought out issues that needed to be brought out” instead of “shamelessly appealing for votes.”

Supporters of the Smith campaign included Muslim and Arab communities and supporters of rent control, she said. Running under the Green-Rainbow Party banner also helped the campaign. “Being part of a party helps people hook in,” she said.