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Dems, Union Endorse City Council Candidates

Cambridge City Hall
Twenty-six candidates are running for nine spots in this year's Cambridge City Council elections.
UPDATED: September 18, 2017 at 3:40 p.m.

Local 26, a union that represents hundreds of Harvard University Dining Services workers, and the Harvard College Democrats each endorsed candidates this week ahead of November’s Cambridge City Council election.

The College Democrats voted to endorse just one candidate: incumbent Jan Devereux. Local 26 chose to endorse six candidates, including three incumbents—Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Craig Kelley, Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, and Devereux—two new contenders: Paul Toner, and Alanna Mallon.

The endorsements come after SEIU, which represents some of Harvard’s custodial workers, announced its endorsements of Simmons, McGovern, Toner, and newcomer Vatsady Sivongxay.

This year, 26 candidates are running for the nine spots on the City Council. The election will feature an unusually high number of open seats, as three current councillors—Nadeem A. Mazen, Leland Cheung, and David P. Maher—announced earlier this year that they were stepping down.

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According to Devontae A. Freeland ’19, campaigns director of the College Democrats, the club has not historically endorsed in races like this—the last candidate the club endorsed was Ed Markey in the 2013 U.S. Senate Election.

The College Democrats’ constitution rules require at least a two-thirds support of all votes to endorse any candidate, and the group can only endorse up to three candidates. Freeland said that sixty votes were cast on Wednesday night, and Devereux is “someone that resonated across the membership of the Dems.”

“[Two-thirds] is not just a small group of people that feel they support this person, it has to be overwhelming support,” Freeland said, “and I think that’s also a factor that led to our endorsing of Jan Devereux.”

While the Democrats held a vote of its members to determine endorsements, Local 26 asked its members for their input.

"The Local 26 Political Endorsement Committee, which is made up of rank-and-file members of our union, reviewed the incumbent candidates records and also interviewed other candidates running for office for the first time,” Local 26 president Brian Lang wrote in an emailed statement. “They concluded these six candidates will be the most effective at creating good jobs and promoting affordable housing.”

With approximately 40 to 50 members on the campaign committee, the College Democrats will work on Devereux’s campaign, postering, making calls, and knocking on doors. Freeland emphasized that another key component in campaign work is to reach out to Harvard students.

To engage students in the local election, Freeland said the College Democrats plan to have a “get-out-the-vote HQ” on November 7, election day. He said that the importance of local politics was especially important given “the lack of protection of civil rights that we’re seeing at the federal level.”

Elections for Cambridge City Council will be on November 7.

—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at caroline.engelmayer@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at lucy.wang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: September 18, 2017

A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated that Craig Kelley was a first time contender in the Cambridge City Council race. In fact, he is an elected member of the Council.

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