Local Races Feature Harvard

As Cambridge voters head to the polls today to cast their ballots in the presidential elections, they will also weigh in on several local races featuring candidates with Harvard connections.

The two Harvard-affiliated candidates—one a recent graduate, the other a member of the Leverett Senior Common Room—are each mounting long-shot campaigns against popular incumbents.

But coming from either end of the political spectrum, both candidates say they want to mount a challenge to the Democratic Party’s dominance in the area.


In the district that includes Harvard and its surrounding neighborhoods, Carolina S. Johnson ’04 is running on the Green-Rainbow Party ticket, representing the first opposition that Democratic State Rep. Alice K. Wolf has faced since her initial election in 1996.


Wolf, a former mayor and member of the School Committee and City Council, has a wide base of support in the 25th Middlesex District.

But while Johnson has expressed agreement with many of Wolf’s positions, she takes issue with the nature of state-wide politics.

“You don’t have accountability, you don’t have opposition, you don’t have debate on a variety of levels,” she said.

Johnson has held several events on campus to publicize her campaign. She said several of her key platforms may appeal to students, including her support for affordable housing, her push for later hours for public transportation service and her emphasis on public safety in light of recent indecent assaults near campus.

Wolf, who holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government and served as an Institute of Politics fellow in 1994, said she had won support on campus for her work on the living wage campaign and her advocacy on behalf of same-sex marriage.

She has also been a visible presence at neighborhood meetings to discuss Harvard’s expansion.

“There’s always tension between Harvard and its neighbors around development issues, so I try to be coming up with solutions that will work,” she said.

While Wolf called her chances of winning “quite good,” Johnson was more guarded.

“I feel the campaign will have benefits no matter how the numbers come out on Election Day,” Johnson said. “It’s very rare for a first-time challenger of an incumbent to win that election. I really don’t know how I’m going to do.”