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Walter J. Sullivan, the perennial front-runner in Cambridge City Council elections, has run away from the field of 26 candidates, polling some 1400 votes more than his closet opponent, incumbent Alfred E. Vellucci.
Sullivan had a total of 3634 votes in yesterday's initial, unofficial count by the City's election commission. He was the only candidate to surpass in the first round of counting the unofficial quota of 2492 votes needed for election. Under the City's Proportional Representation system, ballot-counting will continue at least until Saturday.
Vellucci and incumbent Thomas W. Danehy ran second and third with totals of 2234 and 2195 votes respectively. Newcomer Robert P. Moncreiff finished a strong fourth with 2104 votes.
Normally, Edward A. Crane '35 runs second to Sullivan, but in what was perhaps the biggest surprise in the returns he slipped to fifth in the initial count, polling 2080 votes as compared to 3165 in 1967.
Observers of the count were puzzled by the large drop in Crane's vote. Although none would say for sure, they suggested a variety of causes-including Crane's strong anti-rent-control stand, a less active campaign, and the low voter turnout-for the drop.
Aside from Crane's fall in the standings, the biggest surprise in the elections was the low turnout; there were only about 25,000 votes cast on Tuesday, down for some 31,000 in 1967. Splinter candidates running on rent-control platforms generally did poorly, indicating that the bitter battle over the issue failed to draw many new voters to the polls.
Among those candidates, rock-music entrepreneur and Harvard Law graduate Steve Nelson did the best, gaining some 450 votes. Daniel F. Connelly, first chairman of the pro-rent-control Cambridge Housing Convention, got 253, while Cynthia F. Kline of the Cambridge Peace and Freedom Party polled 243.
The first five in the initial returns-along with incumbent Barbara Ackermann (sixth with 1780 votes) and School Committeeman Daniel J. Clinton (seventh with 1626-seem fairly sure of electionas the City's complicated system of electing strong candidates, eliminating weak ones, and redistributing their votes wends its way for the rest of the week.
That leaves two seats still open, however, and the fight for those seats raises a number of interesting questions:
Will incumbent Thomas H. D. Mahoney (now eighth with 1365) be able to pick up enough votes in the redistribution to make it onto the Council again? Normally, Mahoney picks up a large number of votes from Crane's surplus, but Crane's fall in the standings means there won't be such a surplus to go around this year.
Can incumbent Daniel J. Hayes Jr. (eleventh with 1155 votes) pick up new votes in the redistribution faster than newcomer Leonard J. Russell (tenth with 1159)? If Hayes begins to slip, even a little, his chances of re-election will approach zero.
Have Cambridge's blacks concentrated their votes among the three black candidates sufficiently to assure one of the three of election? Currently, Thomas Coates, a black former councillor, is running ninth with 1171 votes. If the firstround votes cast for the other two blacks-School Committeeman Gustave M. Solomons (819) and Henry F. Owen III (525-eventually go to Coates in the redistribution, he will just barely squeak in over the 2492 quota. If an appreciable number of the votes are scattered to white candidates. Coates probably won't make it.
Today, the election commission will validate the first council count and begin its first tally of the School Committee race.
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