Eight Members Retain Seats; One Newcomer Elected to City Council

Eight incumbents and one newcomer won election to the nine-member Cambridge City Council in the Nov. 6 elections, according to unofficial results released by the City of Cambridge Election Commission last week. Henrietta Davis, a councillor since 1996, received the highest number of top votes.

Samuel Seidel, an urban planner and graduate of the Harvard School of Graduate Design, reached the quota of 1,364 ballots needed to win a seat in the 10th and last round of ballot distribution in the proportional representation voting system. Seidel, the only non-incumbent to win a seat, missed the quota of 1,608 by 90 votes in the 2005 elections.

Seidel’s campaign focused on his qualifications as an urban planner, citing one of the city’s biggest challenges as using its space in a way that serves the interests of town residents, universities, and companies. “We’re going to be living together whether we want to be or not,” Seidel said. “… Universities bring a tremendous amount to Cambridge, but they do wield a lot of pressure. The challenge is figuring out how to work together without being consumed.”

Seidel said that one of his priorities was to examine how to work with the universities on economic development and housing issues. “Universities have a historic role in housing issues, and sometimes for the better,” Seidel said. “I’d like to re-examine that, [in] trying to relieve some pressures on the housing market.”

David Maher held on to the seat he won in a special election held when Michael A. Sullivan retired early in September. Maher had formerly served as vice mayor on the Council in 1999 and was the founder and first chairman of the University Relations Committee.

This year’s election had record low turnout, with 13,721 ballots cast out of 56,339 voters registered as of October 2007. The population of Cambridge was 101,355 in the 2000 U.S. Census. Turnout was lowest in the precincts dominated by the MIT and Harvard campuses; only 32 people voted in the two precincts covering most of MIT’s campus and including many of the dormitories along the river.

According to Robert Winters (and former Tech photographer), the editor of the Cambridge Civic Journal and an expert on local politics, students tend to ignore municipal elections, instead only turning out for national and state-level elections. The age group with the most number of registered voters is the 20–35 age group, which Winters attributes to the high number of university students in Cambridge.

Despite the focus on older constituencies, several candidates sported Facebook pages, including Marjorie Decker, Kenneth Reeves, Craig Kelley, and Seidel.

Seidel narrowly beat challenger Edward J. Sullivan, a cousin of former Cambridge mayor Michael A. Sullivan who chose not to run this year.

The other incumbent who did not seek reelection was Anthony D. Gallucio, whose name remained on the ballot for administrative reasons. Gallucio won a seat in the Massachusetts State Senate earlier this year.

Cambridge School Committee elections returned five incumbents and one newcomer, Nancy Tauber, who replaced incumbent Richard Harding.

The unofficial results do not include provisional ballots and overseas absentee ballots, which will be counted on Nov. 16 but are not expected to change the results.