UNTIL 1975, students were prohibited from voting in Cambridge municipal elections. It took a court case to win Harvard undergraduates the chance to decide how the city that is their temporary home should be run.
Since then, students have become an integral part of the liberal progressive faction that has championed issues of social and economic justice in Cambridge. With votes of students, the city councilors backed by the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) have been able to remain in a precarious balance of power with city conservatives.
The result of that balance has been the maintenance of Cambridge as a demographically and economically diverse city. The CCA councilors have defended the city's strict rent control ordinance from various attacks, passed a regulation limiting condominium conversion, used zoning to control commercial development that destabilizes fragile neighborhoods, and fought for jobs to Cantabridgians in companies setting here.
This struggle does not disappear. Every two years, Cambridge holds an election that potentially could reverse its gains. The loss of a single seat on the nine-member body could negate any accomplishments. Students registered to vote in Cambridge must go to the polls again today to reaffirm the commitment to economic and social inequality.
The CCA has endorsed a strong slate of five candidates, including incumbents Francis H. Duehay '55, State Rep. Saundra Graham (D-Cambridge). David E. Sullivan, David A. Wylie and challenger Alice Wolf. All have committed themselves to continuing the goals of the association's platform.
One other candidate who is not a CCA endorsee. Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci, has also shown his commitment to just public policy. It is through his swing vote that much of the CCA agenda has been passed.
In Cambridge's system of Hare proportional representation voting, residents may support a list of candidates, but their number 1 vote remains the most important. Sullivan, who led the drive to give students their voice in city politics in the first place, has shown himself to be an effective legislator and an able spokesman. Harvard undergraduates should list him at the top of their ballots, followed by the other five progressive candidates.