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Ken Reeves Elected Mayor of Cambridge

By Marie Y. Thibault

City Councillor Kenneth Reeves was elected and inaugurated to a two-year term as mayor of Cambridge on Jan. 2, replacing Councillor Michael Sullivan. Reeves, who ran against Councillor Denise Simmons, was elected by the Council in a five-to-four vote.

Reeves is far from new to the job. He was Cambridge’s mayor from 1992 to 1995, as the first black mayor in Massachusetts and America’s first openly gay black mayor, according to the Cambridge Chronicle.

According to the Cambridge Civic Journal, Reeves had the support of councillors Marjorie Decker, Anthony Galluccio, Sullivan, Timothy Toomey, and himself. Simmons received votes from Councillors Henrietta Davis, Brian Murphy, Craig Kelley, and herself. Reeves, Toomey, Kelley, and Simmons could not be reached for comment yesterday.

After Reeves received the majority, Davis, Murphy, and Simmons gave their votes to Reeves, to show their acceptance of his election. Kelley, however, did not switch his vote, because, as he told the Chronicle, he is “very cognizant of the fact that Denise has some kids in the [public] schools.” The mayor heads the Cambridge School Committee.

Kelley, who was elected last fall as the first non-incumbent councillor since 2001, said in his campaign platform that the “Cambridge Public Schools must be improved to the point where everyone, including City Councillors, are willing to send their kids to our public schools.”

Reeves agreed that education is a high priority, saying that one of his goals was to “give every student an education that equips them to succeed in the 21st century,” according to the Chronicle.

Sullivan said that he talked to Reeves about the importance of continuing to push forward recent improvements in the school system.

After Reeves was elected, the councillors elected Toomey as vice mayor. The same five councillors who initially voted for Reeves also gave Toomey their vote, while the four Simmons supporters, including Simmons, voted for Murphy. Once it was determined that Toomey had the majority, Davis, Kelley, Murphy, and Simmons gave their votes to Toomey, according to the Cambridge Civic Journal.

Following his most recent election to the mayoralty, Reeves told the Chronicle that Cambridge has “changed dramatically” since 1995 and that its middle class is disappearing.

In addition to supporting Cambridge’s biological sciences industry, according to the Chronicle, Reeves believes that many people are currently being forced out by the high cost of housing, and Cambridge must be made into a city where all of its citizens can stay.

Sullivan, who served as mayor for the last four years, said in an interview that although he would have enjoyed an opportunity to run for mayor again, he would like to spend more time with his two children, who are five and seven years old. Looking back, he said he has made major accomplishments in education, by providing leadership that did not exist in the past and encouraging the school committee to be more critical. He said he also promoted a literacy initiative by stressing the need for daycare providers and community members to take a role in creating earlier childhood literacy.