Mayor's Death Sparks Political Jockeying

For a while local pundits were saying that this November's battle for the nine seats on the Cambridge City Council was going to be nothing more than a skirmish.

But with one, and possibly two incumbents already out of the running, next November's municipal elections could turn into a full-scale war.

Some local observers have said that the political fallout from the recent death of a five-term incumbent City Councilor, the late Mayor Leonard J. Russell, will have no substantial impact on the recently announced candidates for council.

But City Councilor Saundra M. Graham, the only Black and one of two women on the nine-member body, could play a pivotal role this fall in the political future of three recently announced candidates.

Graham told the Crimson in May that she may not seek reelection if she decides to run for Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill's Congressional seat.

If Graham opts to run for O'Neill's seat, she is likely to encourage other liberal candidates to enter the council race A city councilor since 1971 and a two-term state representative, Graham says she will decide by September.

Aside from the incumbents, three Cantabrigians have officially announced that they will seek a seat on the Cambridge city council this fall.

In an interview with the Crimson this week, long-time tenant activist Michael H. Turk said that he intends to run for the city council. Although Turk has never held a political office before, he has coordinated several organizations of rent-controlled Cambridge tenants.

As an outspoken critic of Harvard's land lord policies within the city. Turk's candidacy may exacerbate town-gown troubles.

Earlier in the spring, Cambridgeport resident Renee Scott said she would run under the liberal banner of the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA).

Vincent Dixon also announced that he would run, but would not align himself with either the CCA or the more conservative Independent factions on the city council.

There are currently four CCA-endorsed City Councilors, three Independents and one self-proclaimed swing vote, Alfred E. Vellucci.

Political observers also say that the wife of the late mayor. Sheila Russell, may pick up the support of her deceased husband's constituency. If not, speculators are saying, School Committee member Jane F. Sullivan may decide to run for Russell's seat. Like Russell, Sullivan is an Independent from west Cambridge.

Of course, the occupant of the ninth city council seat, which will be determined Tuesday, will most likely run for reelection in November.

And if that new city councilor is Alfred W. LaRosa--as observers are predicting--about with another Italian from East Cambridge by the name of Vellucci could spark its share of fireworks come November.