Shaking Up City Council

R. Elaine Noble, Cambridge's first openly gay council candidate, is possibly the most sophisticated contender in this year's race. But she has no Cambridge track record and is spurning all the established political slates.

Profile: R. Elaine Noble "What my candidacy does is break up the ballgame."

* 47 years old

* 10-year Cambridge resident

* First openly gay person elected to a state legislature. Noble represented Beacon Hill and Back Bay from 1974 to 1978.


* Helped author first gay and lesbian rights legislation

* Established the Pride Institute, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation clinic for homosexuals in Minnesota

* Served on Cambridge's Human Rights Commission from 1988 to 1989

* Currently runs a health care consulting firm called Noble Associates

* First openly gay candidate for City Council in Cambridge

City politicians here in Cambridge fall almost exclusively into two categories: the traditional, neighborhood-based Independents, and the liberal affiliates of the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA).

Indeed, many longtime Cambridge observers say that one almost has to belong to one of these two groups to have any chance at winning in a municipal election.

This fall, however, an unaffiliated dark horse has entered the race. And this dark horse is a far cry from the traditional unaffiliated candidates--the crackpots and City Hall groupies who run unsuccessfully in every election.

R. Elaine Noble, a Graduate School of Education alumna who in 1974 became the first openly-gay person elected to a state legislature, announced in August that she would run for City Council.

Noble is running against two deeply-rooted municipal parties under an electoral system that favors incumbents and slates. Her strategy, therefore, has been to portray the existing power structure as clannish and badly in need of a shake-up.

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