Non-Incumbent Council Candidates Plan Big Changes
With election day fast approaching, Cambridge City Council hopefuls say their yearlong campaign efforts are finally reaching a crescendo.
Michael A. Baldasaro wants to carry on the legacy of his grandfather, Mayor Emeritus Alfred E. Vellucci--the father of rent control in Cambridge.
"I have to be the protector of rent control," says Baldasaro, who is endorsed as the number one candidate by the Cambridge Tenants' Union.
Baldasaro says Harvard's contribution to the city will have to be reevaluated in the future, but he is confident that, like his grandfather, he can keep the city's non-profits in line.
The 39-year-old life-long resident of East Cambridge is also interested in providing for the basic needs of all his constituents.
"We need to work with our children, we need homes for the homeless and we need police and an educational system," says Baldasaro.
William Becze has been an actor and performer in Cambridge for nearly 15 years.
Although he says he has never been involved in politics, Becze says he feels it is time for a change in City Hall.
"I've been going door to door talking with people," Becze says, "But I've found it hard to raise funds."
If elected, Becze says he will strive for consensus among the narrowly divided city council.
"Israel and the Arabs can do it," Becze says.
Gloria M. Beeks, 63, wants the concerns of Area Four residents to be heard.
"I'm running for city council because coming from Area Four, we have not had a voice in the city council," says Beeks, a member of the Area Four Crime Task Force and the Area Four Youth Center.
Citing the proposal to place a homeless shelter for alcoholics in Area Four, Beeks says "We've suffered a lot of discrimination with being dumped at."
Beeks says that what the people of her neighborhood want is affordable housing and not commercial buildings. But Beeks, who is endorsed by the Alliance for Change, does not support rent control without a means test.
Beeks has lived in Cambridge since 1973. She has been raising two of her grandsons since the death of one of her daughters in 1991 and received an award for her work for surviving children of an AIDS victim.
Thomas W. Beer, 49, says he doesn't have an agenda.
"If I'm elected to city council, I'll try to treat everybody with respect, listen to all sides of the question, make up my own mind and work with the rest of the city council to make the city better," Beer says.
A life-long Cambridge resident who supports rent control, Beer is not endorsed by any civic groups.
He also says he doesn't have any money to campaign, so he is making his own signs.
Kathy Born, an architect, says running for city council is a natural step in a life of civic involvement.
A resident of Cambridge for 25 years, Born has worked with Cambridge Citizens for Livable Neighborhoods and the Harvard Square Defense Fund. She is now endorsed by the progressive Cambridge Civic Association.
The 47 year-old Avon Hill resident says she would devote her time on the council to environmental, family and neighborhood preservation issues as well as securing housing, food and human rights for her constituents.
Born says rent control "is here to stay" and should be made to "work as well as possible."
Galit Dukach, 24, says local government should be a part-time job.
Dukach, who has lived in Cambridge since 1989, wants to cut the salaries of the city councillors. She is not endorsed by any civic groups and wants to serve on the council simply as a good citizen.
"My husband and I just bought a house here in Cambridge and that was a good opportunity to get involved with the community we're bringing our child into," says Dukach, who has a baby due at the end of January.
The Libertarian candidate wants to begin her campaign to reduce government intervention in the lives of Cantabrigians by phasing out rent control.
Dukach, whose brother is the youngest tenured Harvard professor, is happy with Harvard's role in the community.
Anthony D. Galluccio wants to take care of working people's needs.
"I think that there's a real need for representatives for working class people in Cambridge," says Galluccio, who is endorsed by the Alliance for Change.
Galluccio says he is pro-development because "the main needs of working class people are jobs and an economy and safe streets."
He says that many higher income people who like the atmosphere of Cambridge forget there are working people here who need jobs.
"Cambridge is not a suburb. It's a city," he says. "Cities look to attract business. Only in Cambridge do we drive the business. Only in Cambridge do we drive the businesses out."
Galluccio opposes rent control because he says it "is not a low income housing policy" and proposes a housing subsidy program to take its place.
Galluccio, whose father and sister are Harvard graduates and whose mother works for Harvard, says the universities make an important contribution to the city.
Vivian Kurkjian wants to clean up the city.
Kurkjian, who has lived in Cambridge since 1975, says one of the things which first struck her about this area was that the streets were dirty. "The first thing I want to do is start enforcing the litter law," she says.
Kurkjian was inspired to run for public office when she found out there was a hole in the ozone layer.
"My own belief is that it's one of the underlying causes of AIDS and other autoimmune diseases," says the Brattle Street area resident, who is not endorsed by any civic groups.
Kurkjian is in favor of rent control. Her other concerns include keeping dogs out of the water supply at Fresh Pond and limiting the use of computers, which she says waste electricity.
Jim McGrail, 27, says the city would be a better place if more decisions were left to the average citizen.
"The best decisions aren't made in an office at city hall," says McGrail, who is endorsed by the Cambridge Alliance for Change.
For this reason, McGrail wants to cut the city councillors' salaries in half. "I really believe that the more money you make, the more out of touch you become with the city of Cambridge," says the North Cambridge resident.
McGrail also says that people should be given unlimited time to speak at city council meetings and public hearings. "I think it's an outrage to limit people's time," he says.
A life-long resident of the city, McGrail opposes rent control.
James McSweeney, the 12th finisher in the 1991 council race, says he is an independent interested in fiscal responsibility.
McSweeney, 29, believes that the council under the Cambridge Civic Association under the Cambridge Civic Association majority has acted inefficiently in providing services to the city.
Rather than considering a proposition 2 1/2 override or increasing taxes, he argues that the city should use existing revenues better.
"Everyone thinks if you throw money at a problem it will go away," McSweeney says.
He advocates "zero-based budgeting" as a solution to increased city spending. Under such a system, each program is annually evaluated as if it were a new proposal.
If elected, McSweeney plans to work for extended hours for the Cambridge MBTA service, better bicycle safety, and a revision of rent control in the city.
Elaine Noble says she became intrigued by city politics when she attempted to start a health care center for gays and lesbians in Cambridge.
"The [city's] politics are so muted," Noble says. "I became fascinated by it."
After finishing 11h in the 1991 Council campaign, Noble was convinced that another successful campaign would give her the votes she needed to win the election.
"You really have to run twice to win in Cambridge," Noble says.
If elected, Noble says she would like to help to build consensus on the council and to provide an access office for city tenants which would help to prevent abuses of the rent control system.
A strict believer in term limitations, Noble says she limited herself to two terms as a State Representative from 1974 to 1978 and can accomplish her goals for the council within the same time frame.
John R. Pitkin says he decided to run in this election after heading the Mid-Cambridge Neighborhood association for six years.
Pitkin says his work with the neighborhood association has given him a great deal of experience with the intricacies of city government.
"I'm running because I'm a democrat and I think that the city government has to do a better job serving the community," Pitkin says.
If elected he says he would work to make city services accessible to all residents by recording every request for service and then reporting these requests to the city council.
"Currently," Pitkin says, "Requests end up in the equivalent of a dead letter office."
Pitkin says he also hopes Harvard will become a better Cambridge neighbor.
"I'm certainly an advocate of setting higher standards for institutions of higher education in the Cambridge community," Pitkin says.
Ron Potvin, 30, says he's the only Republican running for Cambridge City Council.
"I'm pro-development and pro-business and I understand the importance of commercial interest in the city," says Potvin, who is endorsed by the Alliance for Charge.
Potvin would like Harvard to be more involved with the city. However, he says that the key to the city's financial stability is not greater contributions from Harvard but a larger tax base and more fiscal prudence.
Potvin, who was born and brought up in Cambridgeport, is opposed to rent control in its current form.
George A. Spartichino is says he hopes to garner the family vote on November 2.
"I think that there is a lack of support for families," Spartichino says.
Spartichino says he has refused campaign contributions for his campaign so that he may stay "truly independent." In this as in the last election, he did not accept endorsements and finished "a quiet 14th."
Although Spartichino says he has been very impressed with the Harvard students he has met, he says he is often frustrated by the University's encroachment upon outlying neighborhoods.
Michael A. Sullivan says his election would continue a long standing city council tradition. His father, Walter J. Sullivan, served on the council for 34 years and decided this year not to run for reelection.
Sullivan, who lives in Mid-Cambridge on Putnam Ave., says he hopes to bring consensus to a divided city council.
"I'd like it to be less divisive and less about one upmanship," Sullivan says, adding that the current problems of crime in the city and lack of development are more important than political maneuverings.
Sullivan says although his supporters will include proponents of his father, he also hopes to draw from the younger generation.
Although Sullivan says Harvard has been unresponsive to the needs of the city in the past, he feels relations have improved in recent years.
"Harvard and MIT have attracted a number of companies--they are an economic benefit," Sullivan says.
Harvard students, he says, also work to be good citizens.
"A lot of students give back what they receive," Sullivan says, "They are working to reach out."
Lawyer and civil right activist Katherine Triantifillou says she decided to run for a council spot because she was worried about the absence of a progressive woman on the council.
Concerned with issues of safety in her North Cambridge neighborhood, Triantifillou says she began to investigate the death of an Alewife woman on the railroad tracks and found that the city had been negligent.
Triantifillou says she has led Cambridge in other capacities, first by working on Cambridge's domestic partners ordinance and secondly by serving as a spokesperson and arbitrator for the gay and lesbian community.
Triantifillou says most of her support will come from the gay and progressive community.
"What I intend to do is be the person who speaks for persons who do not have access to the system," Triantifillou says.
If elected, she says she work hard to combat domestic violence in the city and to make North Cambridge's train tracks safer.
Harvard Square resident Thomas P. Weed has come up with a solution to the city's fiscal problems--taxing the non profits.
"I want to tax Harvard University and MIT. I support State House Bill 4042 that would allow towns to tax land occupied by non-profits," Weed says. "We're in the middle of a fiscal crisis, and we have to explore fair alternatives."
Weed also supports rent control and is endorsed by the Cambridge Tenants' Union.
The 37 year-old self-employed sales representative is married and has a four year-old daughter. This is his first bid for a seat on the city council.
Robert Winters says he caught the political bug in 1989 when he organized recycling programs for the city.
"Once you get into the habit of getting things done," Winters says, "It's hard to stop One the council, I'd have more authority to get things done more effectively."
Winters, who is 38 years old and lives in Mid-Cambridge on Broadway, says he divides his time between his professorship in mathematics at Wellesley College and his campaign.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities at Wellesley, Winters said he has been an section leader for Math 1a and 1b at Harvard.
Winters says he wishes Harvard and MIT students would become more involved in city politics.
"It's a terrible thing when students choose to vote only in national and state elections and ignore local elections," he says.
If elected, Winters says he would work to reform the city's rent control policy by instituting a "graduated system of rent controls" which would protect the city's smaller owners.
Manuel C. Barros, William C. Jones, Paul T. Kearns, and Randolph L. Lowet could not be reached for comment.