New School Committee Members Discuss Goals

The biggest vote-getter in this month's city elections was also the biggest surprise.

Alice Turkel, a newcomer to city politics, received the most votes in the city to win an open seat on the seven-member school committee.

Turkel's 2,760 votes exceeded those cast for extremely popular Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72, the top vote getter in the city council race.

Turkel credits her knowledge of the schools and some catchy campaign graphics for the overwhelming support she received.

"I think it was my involvement with schools, kids and families and being known in the community," Turkel says. "People knew that I had been very active and involved."

An eye-catching heart and hand campaign logo and an endorsement from the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) may also have helped Turkel in her race.

"It undoubtedly helped to have a CCA endorsement," she says, adding that the progressive political association helped organize her campaign.

Turkel will be joining the school committee along with another CCA-endorsed candidate, Susan Segat, who came in fifth in the race with 2,095 votes.

This year the school committee is divided along political lines, with three candidates endorsed by the CCA and three by the conservative Cambridge Alliance.

Segat, Turkel and E. Denise Simmons are among the CCA-endorsed committee members. Joseph G. Grassi, David P. Maher and Alfred B. Fantini were endorsed by the Alliance.

The committee's seventh member will be the mayor, who will be chosen in January by the city council. Reeves, who is now an independent after a falling out with the CCA over his election last year, is rumored to be seeking a third term as mayor.

Whatever the political divides on the committee, Segat and Turkel agree it is their job as incoming members to build consensus and work toward their campaign goals of increasing school-based management.

"It doesn't matter if there are three CCA or three Alliance [members]," Segat says. "Because three is not a number that gets you a vote."

Unlike Turkel, who campaigned fervently for the position vacated by Henrietta Davis, Segat began seeking the seat in the months just before the election.

Turkel says she saw Segat as a tough political foe, vying with her for a committee seat. But Segat disagrees, saying she believes she and Turkel were targeting different segments of the population.