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Candidates Gear Up For Fall City Elections

Incumbents Expected to Run Again

By Sewell Chan

Although nomination forms will not be available until June, Cambridge city councillors and city council candidates are already beginning to jockey for positions for this November's election.

To date, only two councillors--Michael A. Sullivan and Katherine Triantafillou--have officially declared their candidacies, but pundits predict that all incumbent councillors except Jonathan S. Myers will seek re-election.

Robert Winters, a Harvard mathematics preceptor who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 1993, says he expects that the incumbents who choose to run will retain their seats because of the city's complex voting system, proportional representation.

"Proportional representation also translates into perpetual re-election," Winters says. "Unless somebody actually steps down, it's very hard for other people to make a show of it."

Winters says he expects Triantafillou and Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 to finish in the top two positions.

And former Councillor William H. Walsh, who was forced to give up his seat in November after his Federal sentencing--on 41 counts of bank fraud, conspiracy and making false statements--says Sullivan will also perform well.

"He's going to be one of the biggest benefactors from Myers' departure," Walsh predicts.

The Issues

Although rent control is being phased out, Sullivan says he expects affordable housing to be one of the fall election's top issues. In addition, Sullivan says he expects the candidates to focus on Cambridge's fiscal situation.

"We will be looking at a budget in tough fiscal years," he says. "The focus will be on the budget situation, the schools and public safety."

Walsh, who has watched every council meeting on television since his ouster, says he expects "the issues of quality of life in Cambridge" to take precedence this election year.

"Discussion of taxes leads you into [discussion of] schools," Walsh says. "We're going to face some real tough decisions because commercial [real estate] is overvalued, and you've got to do some budget cutting."

But Winters says the election will not be won on the issues but on the ability to get constitutents to go out and vote.

"Who can bring out their vote," Winters says, "is the key to a lot of the elections."

And the incumbents stand a good chance of drawing out their loyalists.

In particular, pundits say Katherine Triantafillou may benefit from her strong pro-tenant stance during last year's rent control battles.

The attorney was the only councillor to vote against the city council's watered-down petition to the state legislature after the abolition of rent control in a state referendum on Election Day. She said the city's petition did not adequately protect tenants in rent-controlled apartments.

Triantafillou was also the only councillor to vote against the extension of City Manager Robert W. Healy's contract in October.

Reeves--who came in first in the 1993 race--is expected to draw large numbers of votes.

The city's first Black and first gay mayor, Reeves successfully weathered political storms over his city-related expenses last fall. At one point, more than 140 of his supporters converged on City Hall, accusing Reeves' critics of racism and homophobia.

But political analysts say they are puzzled by Myers' inaction. Formerly an outspoken defendent of tenants' rights, Myers has sponsored almost no ordinances and has rarely participated in council discussions since the end of rent control.

During the hectic political give-and-take over the council's petition to Beacon Hill in November, Myers remained aloof, refusing to partici-

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