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Results of School Committee Election ‘Not Surprising’

By Julia K. Dean and Dan Dou, Contributing Writers

The six-member Cambridge School Committee was elected Tuesday night from a narrow field of 11 candidates.

Afred B. Fantini, Patricia M. Nolan, Alice L. Turkel, Richard Harding Jr., and Marc C. McGovern were re-elected to the Committee. Mervan F. Osborne, a first-time candidate, joined the Committee with the fourth-most votes.

Massachusetts House Representative Alice K. Wolf said the results were not surprising because the election had “a number of strong incumbents.”

Based on the preliminary vote count released at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 14,939 ballots had been cast in the School Committee election, compared to 15,393 ballots cast for the City Council. These results do not include absentee, provisional, and auxiliary ballots, or write–in votes.

School Committee candidate John J. Holland suggested that the discrepancy between the two elections may be a result of voters not knowing the School Committee candidates or not having a stake in the election results because they do not have school–aged children.

Cambridge resident Karen Carmean said that a low voter-turnout does not reflect a lack of interest from Cambridge residents.

“Cambridge residents are very conscientious,” she said.

“I look for people who ask questions, who look at the finances, who take risks.”

Alice L. Turkel was reelected to her sixth term on the Committee on Tuesday. Turkel said that she ran a campaign focused on face-to-face contact, in contrast to some candidates. “There were a lot of technology driven, underground campaigns that don’t have a lot of visibility,” she said.

“If I call Obama, I don’t expect him to pick up the phone and talk to me. But in Cambridge, voters expect a response from their government. People are entrusting their children to us.”

But for Osborne, the only non–incumbent elected to the School Committee, an internet–focused approach proved successful.

“[Osborne] had been told that you can’t win the first time you run,” Cambridge resident Doane Perry, Carmean’s husband, said. “[But] it’s all about name recognition. He got his name out by making videos on the Internet and with Twitter.”

Unsuccessful first–time School Committee candidate Bill Forster said that although he believed a low voter-turnout favored incumbents in non-presidential election years, those elected to the committee represent the range of views found in Cambridge.

“We have some real diversity of opinions in this group,” he said. “It’s not everybody just saying the same thing. We have very different opinions on what should be done to the system and how things should be handled.”

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