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Cambridge Voters Re-Elect 8 of 9 City Council Members

By Juliet R Bailin and Michael C. George, Contributing Writers

Cambridge residents reelected eight of nine incumbent Councillors to the Cambridge City Council, according to preliminary election results announced last night.

Poll workers counted 15,393 valid ballots, a decrease from the final ballot count of 15,955 in 2009, though preliminary results do not include write-in, auxiliary, provisional, and overseas absentee ballots.

Renewing their terms are Councillors Leland Cheung, Timothy J. Toomey Jr., Mayor David P. Maher, Vice Mayor Henrietta S. Davis, Craig Kelley, E. Denise Simmons, Marjorie C. Decker, and Kenneth E. Reeves ’72. Minka Y. vanBeuzekom will replace two-term incumbent Sam Seidel, the only incumbent to lose.

The final vote counts have not been determined.

Reeves was reelected for his twenty-third year on the City Council. He said one of his first priorities in office will be to secure funding for the Office of College Success, which was launched to help young people get to and through college. The City Manager has not funded the program, though Reeves said he may in the future. Reeves added that he hopes to secure funding before his current term ends.

“I will continue to work as hard as I can for the people of Cambridge,” he said.

Mayor David P. Maher, who will serve his seventh term on City Council, said he will continue to concentrate on education.

“The issue that I have been focusing on is improving the public education experience,” he said. “We’ll wait and see what my role will be this term.”

Voter turnout varied in each of Cambridge’s 11 wards and 33 precincts.

Grace E. Bowen, who is Warden for ward 4, precinct 2 at City Hall, said that 1,001 ballots were counted in her precinct. That number, when divided by two to account for both the City Council and School Board elections, amounts to approximately 500 voters.

“People in Cambridge are pretty conscientious,” said Bowen, who has worked as a Warden for 10 years.

Reeves’s campaign manager Rachel A. Offerdahl said that based on Twitter updates during the day from polling volunteers, voter turn-out this year appeared to be “ridiculously low.” But she later said that a good total turn-out would be 15,000 voters, which was near the actual turn-out.

To encourage residents to vote, Reeves drove around Cambridge with a bullhorn. Earlier in the day, Reeves said, he voted, visited polling places, and paid his respects to deceased family and friends who supported him throughout his political career.

“She’s my good luck charm,” he said of his late mother.

While 734 residents were registered to vote at the polling location at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, only about 70 had voted as of 7:00 p.m., one hour before the polls closed.

“I’ve voted in every election since I got my citizenship ten years ago,” said Denise Chamberland, a Cambridge resident who immigrated to the United States from Canada in 1968. “I think in this country people don’t vote only because they have the luxury of not voting.”

Cambridge Resident Benedict F. Fitzgerald, who is 98 years old, was surprised that so few people were at the Harvard Design School polling location.

“I’ve seen a lot of elections and I vote every year,” he said. “It’s incredible that so few people vote.

The average young guy can name the best ball player but can’t name anyone on the council.”

Lauren B. Plavisch, who worked on Matt P. Nelson’s campaign, disagreed that voter turnout was low. “I’m an example of someone who was mobilized,” she said.

“I’ve never been involved in a campaign before. This is my first vote for a City Council election ever. I would say a lot of people on the campaign are like me.”

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