Conservative Trend in City Politics


The cumbersome process of proportional voting slowly turned out the results of Cambridge's November 6 election: the conservative Independents captured a 5-4 majority on the city council and battled to a deadlock with the liberal Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) for control of the school committee.

Cambridge voters thus threw out the liberal CCA majority on the city council and replaced it with a strong show of support for the more conservative Independents.

However, Francis H. Duehay '55, dean of admissions and studies at the School of Education, was declared last Sunday the ninth-place finisher in the city council election to stave off what looked like an imminent Independent landslide.

Duehay, who won election two years ago by only 37 votes, defeated Independent Donald A. Fantini by 88 votes to retain his seat on the council and prevent the Independents from controlling six council seats.

Under Cambridge's complex election system, a voter ranks his favorite candidate in order and a candidate must receive a certain quota of votes to win election. The tabulation dragged on for a week and a half as the votes for less successful candidates were eliminated and redistributed to the voters' second and third choices.


The redistribution revealed two major surprises in Cambridge voting trends--the strength of CCA School Committeeman David A. Wylie and the liberal nature of Dominic H. Christofaro's supporters. Christofaro was widely regarded as the most conservative CCA-endorsed candidate and some observers had expected his voters would support Independent candidates with their tertiary votes.

The school committee race ended in a CCA-Independent deadlock. Glenn S. Koocher '71, a moderate who ran without the endorsement of any slate, captured the sixth and final seat on the committee, preventing a victory by either side.

Three CCA-endorsed candidates and two Independents also won election to the school committee. The Independent-controlled city council will elect the new mayor, who will then become the board's seventh member and third Independent.

Koocher narrowly beat out Independent Robert A. Romagna by 91 votes, as the outcome see-sawed back and forth throughout the tabulation and the elimination of lesser candidates.

Superintendent of Schools Alflorance Cheatham appears to have a majority of support from the new committee. Controversy over Cheatham was the chief issue of the campaign.

The Independents criticized Cheatham, brought in from Chicago by CCA in 1972, for failing to fill school department openings with local residents.

Despite the Independent takeover of the city council, Cambridge observers view the strong showing of liberal candidates in the school committee as endorsement of Cheatham's program of reform for the public schools.

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