Counting Change in Cambridge


More than a week after they cast their ballots in Cambridge's bizarre weighted municipal election last November, city residents found out just how the face of city politics had changed.

The schism between old line Independents--the ethnic and neighborhood conservatives--and liberal Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) politicians was as deep as ever after the election, but the balance between the two groups may have shifted subtly.

For the first time in years, a CCA majority rules the city's powerful School Committee. On the city council sit four traditional Independents and four CCA members--and one Alfred E. Vellucci, maverick Independent, who votes more liberal on many issues than the CCA councilors.

New faces emerged from the balloting as well; David Sullivan, a young tenant activist trained at Harvard Law School, ran an astonishing second citywide, challenging perennial kingpin Walter J. Sullivan as the city's most popular politician.

And Francis H. Duehay '55, a city official for more than a decade and hardly a new face, won a new job--mayor. The former Ed School admissions director ran as the CCA candidate for the post, which city councilors elect from among their own ranks.

David Sullivan's electoral triumph may signal that the city's tenants are finally ready to join the Cambridge political mainstream. Many of those who supported the young lawyer also voted for CCA candidates; if that allegiance holds, they could dramatically shift the city's balance of power.

But the city's new "condo class"--wealthy suburbanites returned to the city--could also change the political system, too. Younger and more fiscally conservative than many of the neighborhood politicians, they will become more powerful as their numbers swell.