Twenty City Council Candidates Prepare for Campaign

Affordable Housing and Budget Issues Dominate Election Discussion as Local Politicians Formulate Their Strategies.

Competition in this f all's City Council election will be stiff as 20 Cambridge residents campaign completed nomination papers by the July 31 deadline for the nine available council seats.

A few candidates have their campaigns well under way, while others have not yet begun to lay down the groundwork for their bids.

"We've been meeting for five months [and] getting organized," said city Councillor Anthony D. Galluccio, who is running for a second term. "I like to get an early start."

Lester P. Lee Jr., on the other hand said, "I haven't even started my campaign yet and I don't really know who I'm facing yet."

Lee is making his first bid for Cambridge city office.

The 20 candidates will be campaigning for the votes of city residents in the months leading up to the November 9 election. Across the board, candidates have identified the budget, public safety and the improvement of the public school system as issues they will address in their campaigns.

"I think the chief issue before the city is finances," said candidate Henrietta Davis, who is completing a term on the school completing. "We've nearly reached the levy limit, and that's a problem for us...some of the supports that have been available to us as a city are threatened."

Councillor Michael A. Sullivan also identified the city budget, among other issues as an important topic of discussion.

"Right now there's a concern that it's [city expenditures] growing at too great a pace," he said.

"We need to insure that what we're doing with those resources is the best we can do," Sullivan added.

Another incumbent, katherine Triantafillou, said she intends to propose "mission driven budgeting" to her constituents. Triantafillou said her approach would help to redefine the process by which the budget is determined.

"I would like the [budget] process to begin earlier, be written in terms people understand and different departments should define their mission and what services they provide," she said.

Candidate Robert Winters, a math preceptor at Harvard, identified the budget as one of the only large issues in the election.

"There are very few big issues right now, other than the proximity of the city budget [to] the levy limit," Winters said. "The city budget has grown far faster than rates of inflation or anything else."

"Cambridge has spent money like a drunken sailor and right now, the concentration has to be on stabilizing the tax base," he said.