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Environmental consultant Craig Kelley was poised to replace three-term veteran David P. Maher on the Cambridge City Council, with the eight other incumbents holding onto their seats, according to preliminary election results released last night.
Kelley’s victory would mark the first change on the council since 2001. In the last election two years ago, all nine incumbents were reelected.
This year, for the fifth election in a row, perennial favorite Anthony D. Galluccio garnered the most number-one votes. Incumbents Henrietta Davis, Marjorie C. Decker, Brian P. Murphy ’86-’87, Kenneth E. Reeves ’72, E. Denise Simmons, Michael A. Sullivan, and Timothy J. Toomey, Jr. were all positioned to join Galluccio and Kelley on the council.
“I’m humbled that people gave me their trust,” said Kelley, who ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2003. “There’s a lot of talent on the City Council, [but] as talented as they are, they needed someone to spark them.”
Many of the nine incumbents and nine challengers, along with their supporters, gathered at the Cambridge Senior Center last night to watch “The Count,” the biennial city tradition in which votes are tallied.
Under Cambridge’s Plan E form of government, voters rank City Council candidates in order of preference. Any candidate who wins over one-tenth of all first-place votes is immediately elected to the council, while candidates with the fewest number of first-place votes are eliminated from the race. The surplus votes of the winners, along with the votes of the eliminated candidates, are then transferred to the next candidates listed on the ballots. This process of redistributing votes continues until all nine seats are filled.
Kelley won his spot in the 11th and final round of vote distribution in last night’s preliminary count.
Election results will not become official until Nov. 18, the deadline for all overseas absentee ballots. Last night’s results also do not include over 530 auxiliary ballots which could not be counted by machine and will be counted manually today.
This year, voters cast a total of 15,994 ballots for the City Council races—about 4,000 fewer than in the 2003 election.
Before last night’s results were announced, Toomey, a 16-year council incumbent, said he was “surprised by the low turnout.”
But local political pundit Robert Winters said the decline in voter participation was not unique to Cambridge.
“It’s a pattern. This is the trend in local elections,” said Winters, the editor of the online Cambridge Civic Journal.
Sullivan, a 12-year council veteran who is currently serving his fourth year as mayor, attributed the low turnout to voter satisfaction with the council over which he has presided.
“People stayed home because things are going well,” he said. “I feel great....Leadership pays off.”
Several of the challengers who missed the cut for council seats said they hoped the ideas they had raised in their campaigns would still have an impact.
“I certainly felt one of the most important things was getting a new face on the council, and we did,” said urban planner Sam Seidel, who came the closest to winning a seat. “I’d have preferred to be a winner but I’m glad with what we’ve accomplished.”
Riverside neighborhood leader Lawrence J. Adkins, the fifth candidate to be eliminated, said that his campaign had drawn the support of “regular Cantabrigians.”
“We took on the idea that the city manager answers to the city,” Adkins said, referring to his campaign’s pointed criticisms of City Manager Robert W. Healy. “[Unfortunately], it didn’t work out the way we wanted.”
Although Kelley, the victorious challenger, called his competitors’ campaigns “above-board and honest,” anonymous posters attacking at least two different candidates surfaced around Cambridge yesterday.
At least two posters comparing incumbent Decker to Osama bin Laden were found taped to poles on Inman Street, just around the corner from City Hall.
“I understand they were posted all around the city,” said Decker, a copy of the document in hand. She added that she didn’t think they were the work of another City Council candidate.
“I have no idea why someone did this,” said Decker’s mother Kathy, who was at the Senior Center to observe the results last night.
In the School Committee elections, handwritten posters surfaced commanding voters to “vote no on Nolan,” referring to Patricia M. Nolan ’80, who ended up being the first candidate to be elected. (Please see related story, page 8.)
Winters called the anti-Nolan signs “one of the great low moments in Cambridge politics.”
—Michael M. Grynbaum and Samuel P. Jacobs contributed to the reporting of this story.
—Staff writer Anna M. Friedman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Brendan R. Linn can be reached at email@example.com.
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