For months now, it has seemed that all political eyes in the Bay State have been focused on the 1998 gubernatorial race. But this Tuesday, voters will also go to the polls, and at least here in Cambridge, they will face some interesting choices. In the race for City Council, all nine incumbents are running again, joined by 10 challengers. The incumbents are heavily favored, and for good reason. Council members Kathleen L. Born, Francis H. Duehay '55 and Henrietta E. Davis are working to preserve affordable housing in the wake of the end of rent control. Anthony D. Galluccio, Kenneth E. Reeves '72 and Mayor Sheila Doyle Russell have all worked on behalf of Cambridge's youth, providing summer jobs and establishing job training programs. Katherine Triantafillou has admirably supported affirmative action and domestic-partnership programs. Incumbent Michael A. Sullivan has a less distinguished record, but seems well-informed about the city's changing economic needs. We comfortably endorse these eight for re-election.
The one incumbent we have trouble endorsing is Timothy J. Toomey Jr., who is also one of Cambridge's delegates to the State House of Representatives, Toomey has been a hard-working and successful advocate for the city's youth and elderly populations. But given his vote in the House last week to reinstate the death penalty, those who oppose capital punishment should think twice before sending him back to City Hall.
Of the large group of challengers, three have put forth candidacies of note. Donald E. Harding has campaigned hard to become the first council member from the city's poor Area Four in 40 years, and, if elected, would draw much-needed attention to the concerns of Cambridge's sizable working class population. Robert Winters, a preceptor in the mathematics department, has attended council meetings regularly for 10 years, and his experience would also make him a good addition to the Council. Finally, Ian M. MacKinnon has run a spirited campaign based on his support for the arts. But, given the candidate's freshness to politics, his unique ideas seem far-fetched.
The race for the Cambridge School Committee features fewer candidates, and looks to be a tighter field. Of the six incumbents running for re-election, we endorse E. Denise Simmons, Alice L. Turkel, Alfred B. Fantini and Joseph G. Grassi. Simmons initiated an important program in which school employees reach out to uninvolved parents. Turkel was instrumental in hiring popular Bobbie D'Alessandro as the new school superintendent, and has also worked hard on curricular issues. Fantini has successfully lobbied the state to pay for school renovations, and Grassi should be rewarded for crossing party lines to vote in favor of D'Alessandro.
We are less enthusiastic toward incumbents Susana M. Segat and David P. Maher. Segat, a labor organizer and mother of two, has worked on increase principals' budgetary discretion, but her goals are vague. Maher, a three-term committee member, has brought federal dollars into the system and has focused attention on needy schools. But his background is in business, not education.
There are two worthy challengers in the race. Robin A. Harris, a former committee member, has been a teacher for more than 10 years, and points out that among the six incumbents, not one is an educator. She supports school-based management and the incorporation of multiculturalism in school curricula. Charles L. Stead Sr. brings experience as a former principal in the Cambridge school system, and pledges to work on behalf of disadvantaged minority male students. If elected, both are likely to work hard to improve the education of the City's youth.