The Incumbents: Running on Their Records

The Cambridge City Council election is November 2. Among the 29 candidates, the incumbents have the natural advantage. The Crimson takes a look at all seven candidates running for re-election.

William H. Walsh, 48, says allegations of bank fraud won't interfere with his campaign for re-election onto the Cambridge city council.

The four-term councillor says that his trial definitely won't take place until after the election and that his campaign is going well. "The people have been fantastic," he says.

Walsh says the election's biggest issues will be the tax rate and rent control because the city is in a financial crisis.

Walsh is one of the council's greatest opponents of rent control. "I think it needs massive change or total abolition," he says.

Walsh would like Harvard to make a larger payment to the city in lieu of taxes. He doesn't rely on Harvard students, though.

"They're students here. During that time I'd hope they'd be respectful to the community," Walsh says. "I don't think people just passing through have any definite role."

Walsh allegedly defrauded Dime Savings Bank of New York of about $8 million for condominium developments in Massachusetts. He was indicted last October on 59 counts of conspiracy, bank fraud and making false statements to a federally insured bank.

If he is convicted on all counts, Walsh faces up to 208 years in prison and $14.75 million in fines.

Francis H. Duehay '55 has spent most of his 22 years on the Cambridge city council defending the environment.

Duehay, who is endorsed by the Cambridge Civic Association, has worked to keep the water supply at Fresh Pond clean and to prevent the construction of Scheme Z, a 16-lane, 11-story highway interchange slated for construction through East Cambridge.

But despite his environmental concerns, Duehay does not oppose development altogether.

"We have had a very rocky history of neighborhoods fighting development," Duehay says. "If we continue the pattern, we're going to lose the kind of development that we want and the kind of jobs that we want."

The 60 year-old Neighborhood Ten resident also favors town-gown cooperation--better relations between the city and Harvard.

Duehay says that in previous campaigns he has personally visited all Harvard students registered to vote in Cambridge and that he hopes to do the same this year.

Duehay, who is on the Phillips Brooks House Association advisory committee, says many students do not realize how much power they wield. "They're a very important part of the constituency," Duehay says.

Duehay says it is important to recognize that Harvard is not compelled to make a payment in lieu of taxes to the city. However, he thinks Harvard should give more money to Cambridge.

If Harvard paid the full tax rate, Cambridge would get $30 million more annually, he says. "I think we should get more money, and I think Harvard could afford it," he says.

Sheila T. Russell first ran for city council eight years ago when then-Mayor Leonard J. Russell died.

But the four-term councillor doesn't live in the shadow of her husband. Instead, the West Cambridge resident devotes her time to helping senior citizens, beautifying neighborhoods and fighting crime.

"I'd like to continue my work with the elderly," Russell says. "I get a kick out of them. They're good people."

Russell, who is endorsed by the Cambridge Alliance for Change, says rent control will be one of the biggest issues of the election.

Russell says she advocates rent control reform, because many people with high incomes are benefiting from the current program.

"I'm a taxpayer and I don't like to subsidize people like the mayor," Russell says. "If poor people need rental subsidies, they should get them--but not anyone else."

The council must also exercise fiscal responsibility by expanding the city's tax base and providing job and business opportunities, Russell says.

And though Russell thinks Harvard should provide the city with a higher payment in lieu of taxes, she says she appreciates the roles the universities play in Cambridge.

"I think that Harvard students do a lot of good for the kids in Cambridge, and they've been good role models," Russell says. "If we didn't have Harvard and MIT, we'd be just another little old city."

Timothy J. Toomey believes in the personal touch.

Toomey, who has served on the city council for four years, says he believes in providing services for his constituents.

"You either cut the red tape of government bureaucracy or point them in the right direction," says Toomey, who is endorsed by the Alliance for Change.

Toomey says he became interested in politics because East Cambridge, where he grew up, is a politically active place. "When I grew up, politics was an integral part of the neighborhood," he says.

But public service isn't Toomey's only interest. He says the main concern of the city council during the next term should be fiscal stability.

"We're coming to the tax levy limit. How are we going to continue to fund the programs that we have in the city?" Toomey says. "The city's going to have to take a more aggressive tack in terms of trying to get more creative sources of revenue."

Toomey also says he supports rent control but thinks it needs to be reformed.

"It bothers me when the people who it is designed to help seem to have a difficulty in getting rent-control apartments," he says.

When Edward N. Cyr was elected to city council in 1989, his presence on the council guaranteed the progressive majority which now often determines city policy.

Cyr, who says he found his political roots while working as a community organizer in his home neighborhood of north Cambridge, wrote the city's ethics ordinance and helped to write rules for the city's parking freeze.

While not serving in his capacity as vice-mayor, Cyr is finance director of Chelsea, Mass. Cyr says that as chair of Cambridge's finance committee he has helped to cut the rate of growth in fiscal spending almost in half.

Although Cyr says he is satisfied with Cambridge finance, he finds fault with Harvard's role in the city's economy.

First, Cyr says Harvard's payment in lieu of taxes to the city is insufficient because many of the University's buildings are being used for private research purposes which should not be tax exempt.

"Harvard's payments to the city are wholly inadequate. They are simply not anything like what they should be," Cyr says.

Next, Cyr says Harvard Real Estate has damaged Cambridge's real estate market by buying up land around Harvard Square for commercial purposes.

"They are looking at institutional needs 40 years down the road," Cyr says.

Although Cyr may have a bone to pick with Harvard Real Estate, he says Harvard students are a positive force in Cambridge.

"They bring a certain kind of commitment and compassion to the city," Cyr says.

Kenneth E. Reeves '72 says the most difficult decision he has made in his four years on the city council is the decision to become Cambridge's mayor.

Reeves, who is 42 and a resident of the Agassiz neighborhood, says that while his mayoral duties have drawn him away from his legal practice they have allowed him to become involved with issues such as education reform.

As mayor, Reeves serves as head of the school committee, and in this capacity says he has helped to lead a "revolution" in the city's public schools.

Reeves says the committee has implemented algebra in the middle schools, raised the first grade admission age to six, and helped to reshape inferior elementary schools.

"We are reworking schools toward overall excellence," Reeves says.

In addition to working to improve the schools, Reeves says he is committed to preserving rent control in Cambridge.

"As the council's only tenant, and the only tenant in rent controlled housing, I've worked hard to preserve affordable housing," Reeves says.

As mayor, Reeves says he has been concerned with relations between the city and the two universities which own 25 percent of its land.

Reeves says he believes that Harvard and MIT have "attempted to be better citizens" during the past term.

Reeves says Harvard "must be involved in the needs of the community." The contribution of Harvard students to the city, Reeves says, is just as important as that of the universities. "Harvard," says Reeves, "is an extraordinary place if you can get out of it."

Reeves urges students to leave Harvard Square and to see the rest of the city. "Explore Cambridge and the city around it," he advises, "If for nothing else then for the food and the music."

Jonathan S. Myers says his political interests were inspired by his early work with housing and human service programs.

As he became interested in working on issues on a city-wide level, Myers decided to run for city council. This November marks the close of his second term as city councillor.

"My main interest has always been to serve the community at large," Myers says.

Throughout his tenure on the council Meyers says he has been a supporter of rent control. "I think that rent control is a necessary part of Cambridge," Myers says, adding, "The number one priority of the city council in the next term should be the development of city housing policy."

Myers, who is 35 and lives in the Cambridgeport neighborhood, says he believes Harvard students should take advantage of their Cambridge citizenship to immerse themselves in the city.