School Committee Count Ends In CCA-Independent Deadlock
The hotly contested Cambridge School Committee race ended in a draw yesterday between the liberal Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) and the conservative Independent slate.
Glenn S. Koocher '71, a moderate who ran without the endorsement of any slate, denied victory to either side by winning the sixth and final seat on the committee by a 91-vote margin over Independent Robert A. Romagna '74.
Three CCA endorsees and two Independents also won election to the committee. The Independent-controlled City Council will elect the mayor, who will become the seventh member of the school board.
Koocher was in sixth place after the counting of first-choice ballots last week. He slipped to seventh after the votes of all but the top nine candidates had been redistributed yesterday, the seventh day of ballot counting under the city's unique proportional representation voting system.
Koocher then picked up enough ballots to pass CCA endorsee Orie L. Dudley Jr. '67 by 65 votes. When Dudley's ballots were redistributed, Koocher turned a 23-vote deficit into a 91-vote victory over Romagna.
Other candidates who won election to the committee include CCA endorsees Peter G. Gesell '62, Charles M. Pierce and Alice K. Wolf, and Independents James F. Fitzgerald and Joseph E. Maynard. All but Wolf are incumbents.
Superintendent of Schools Alflorence Cheatham, whom the CCA brought to Cambridge from Chicago in 1972, appears to command the support of a majority of the new committee.
The CCA candidates ran on a pledge to support him, and Koocher said yesterday, "I won't be Cheatham's rubber stamp, but there is no way I can forsee firing him."
Cheatham the Issue
Cheatham was the chief issue in this fall's campaign. The Independents criticized him for failing to fill school department openings with Cambridge residents, and many observers felt that they would have fired Cheatham had they won a majority on the school committee.
As a formality, Romagna's ballots will be distributed today between Koocher and Pierce, the only two winners who have not reached the quota of 3648 votes needed for election. Pierce, the fifth place finisher, will almost certainly reach the quota with these added votes, but Koocher probably will not. Nevertheless, Koocher will be the sixth and final committeman.
The biggest surprise in this year's municipal election was the strong showing by liberal candidates in the school committee race after conservatives had regained control of the city council.
During the past two years, the liberal majority on the council has been unable to work together to carry out its campaign pledges, but the liberal school committee, led by Cheatham, has begun a major overhaul of the public schools.
Arthur Lipkin '68, a Cambridge high school teacher, said yesterday, "The voters of Cambridge have given a mandate to Superintendent Cheatham to continue his fine work."