Sometimes it seems as if most people in Cambridge think they should hold public office.
There are 59 candidates for 15 seats in tomorrow's city council and school committee elections. But since most observers expect at least eight of the incumbents to be re-elected, there are really 51 candidates for only 7 openings.
The "I-can-do-it-too" philosophy is encouraged by two factors. First, the city's complicated system of voting--proportional representation (PR)--aids the election of minority group candidates.
Second, one needs signatures from only 50 registered voters to get on the ballot--most candidates can collect those without leaving their own block.
With so many horses in the race, slates become a critical element in the campaign. They act as a scorecard, helping the voter identify a group of like-minded candidates and aiding the contestants in garnering transfer votes (under PR, candidates are voted for in preferential order, so that those who do not reach a certain quota of No. 1 votes must rely on the No. 2 and 3 transfer votes from supporters of other candidates).
There are four major slates in this year's election, two of them new this year: the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA), the Grass Roots Organization (GRO), the Socialist Workers Party and the Independents.
GRO is a radical off-shoot of CCA, founded this summer by incumbent councillor Saundra Graham and former chairman of the Democratic City Committee John Brode '52.
The Independents have formed a slate for the first time because of the realities of PR politics. They reluctantly recognize that the CCA has had great success in making slate endorsements since 1940.
However, the Independent slate for city council is one in name only. The ten candidates do not have a common platform, nor do they pool their campaign funds.
"We're a group of city councillors who believe the city council is of the people and for the people," says Independent Alfred E. Vellucci. "The people who vote for us have the platform."
The Independent slate for school committee is slightly more structured. Its 12 candidates call for better communications within the school system, improved facilities and security, "quality education with fiscal responsibility," and more occupational education (job-training).
Among the Independent slate candidates for school committee are two Harvard students--Robert Romagna '74 and Roberto Garcia '75.
By contrast, the CCA is a highly professional, well-financed organization. It hammered out a platform for its city council and school committee candidates