City Council Candidates Square Off for Upcoming Election

The stunning defeat of rent control last November ushered in a new political era in Cambridge.

Without the heated issue of fixed rents hovering over the process, voters will go to the polls one week from today to decide which issues and which candidates will shape the city's future.

Among the issues that will dominate the Cantabrigian landscape in the near future are: the city's housing policy, education, the search for a new police commissioner, the city's budget and crime.

The future of Harvard Square and the surrounding area will also be a big issue on the City Council agenda in the next few months.

Recent proposals regarding Harvard Square buildings have pitted historical preservationists and pro-development advocates against each other. In particular, two recent proposals have ignited debate.

The first is a proposal by Cambridge Savings Bank to demolish four buildings in the Square which contain 14 tenants including the Tasty and the Wursthaus restaurants. The bank hopes to construct a new four-story building and in the process create 60,000 square feet of retail space.

The second is a proposal by the owners of the Sheraton Commander to tear down three 19th-century houses near Cambridge Common in order to make room for a parking garage for the hotel.

In preparation for next Tuesday's election, the Crimson asked each of the candidates running for their opinions on the primary issues facing the city and about the two proposals to reshape Harvard Square.

Incumbent Kathleen L. Born, 47, says she ran for city council in 1993 because she "wanted to give something to the city that has given a lot to me."

While on the council, Born helped implement the City Home program, which allocates funds to construct and renovate middle-income housing projects. She has also worked to double the number of federally funded summer food program sites in the city.

Born also supports controlling truck traffic on neighborhood streets, protecting open space and limiting the size of commercial developments in Cambridge.

An architect, Born says she is committed to the preservation of historic buildings in Harvard Square and on Garden St.

"Cambridge should not be for sale to the highest bidders," Born says.

Marty Connor, a computer consultant living in Central Square, says housing is the most important issue currently facing Cambridge.

"If the housing situation is not addressed, then there will be a housing emergency and many of the electorate will simply be evicted," says Connor, 37.