School Committee Election Issues Abound

Thirteen have qualified to get their names on the ballot

Thirteen candidates have qualified to run for open spots on the Cambridge School Committee in the November elections, the Cambridge Election Commission announced last Friday.

School reorganization and discipline are likely to be the big issues in what Cambridge political analyst Glenn S. Koocher '71 says will be a tight race.

"There will be a lot of excitement in this race. When you have vacant spots you always get credible legitimate candidates," Koocher said. Each candidate had to gather 50 signatures from registered city voters to win a place on the ballot.

The candidates are pursuing different strategies to distinguish themselves from the rest of the field.

One candidate, Michael Harshbarger, stresses his experience with Cambridge issues.


"I grew up in Cambridge, I went to High School in Cambridge. It gave me a real appreciation for the kids that go there," Harshbarger said, adding that some other candidates lack the necessary experience of Cambridge life.

"I'm one of the few people who has lived here his whole life, went to school here and understands the kids. I've done it," Harshbarger said. "I offer a viewpoint that is unique because I identify with some of the children. We have children who are struggling in the Cambridge School System and we can't let those kids fail."

Another candidate, Nancy Walser, said she has run twice already, but without success. She said she hopes that goals from her previous campaigns can now be realized.

"The reason that I'm running is that there are a lot of issues still important to me from my first and second campaign," said Walser, who also wrote a book called A Parents Guide to Cambridge Schools. "We have real achievable goals now."

Koocher said he thought that Walser was a well-qualified candidate for the School Committee.

"A major...candidate with significant credibility is Nancy Walser. Her angle is that as a writer, who has written an

extremely analytical and critical book, she knows how to get information," Koocher said.

Incumbent Denise Simmons, who originally had decided to run for City Council, will run to retain her place on the School Committee instead.

Koocher said Simmons may have been influenced by members of the City Council in her decision.

"I think in Denise's case she was put under a lot of pressure by people in the black community who felt that her candidacy for city council could threaten Ken Reeves," Koocher said, referring to incumbent City Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves '72.

Winners in the November race will grapple with some tough problems.

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