collage of 2017 Cambridge City Council candidates
collage of 2017 Cambridge City Council candidates

Because in a race with 26 candidates, you’ll only remember slogans


November 1, 2017



Everyone outside Cambridge thinks they understand why it’s kind of a weird place. But to truly apprehend how odd the city is, you really need to vote in one of its municipal elections. Especially this one. Where else in the area do you have a ranked choice voting system where every candidate is an at-large candidate with a theoretically equal chance of winning one of the nine seats on offer, and every incumbent has to run for reelection in every election? What makes this year’s council race particularly wild is that there are three open seats. Meaning that there are six incumbents running, including the current mayor (a councilor who is elevated by a vote of her peers), and no less than 20 other candidates.


Having attended a recent debate with most of the candidates in attendance, I can assure you that it’s no easy task to even remember anything about individual candidates, let alone choose one to give your coveted #1 vote to (and then assign your #2 through #26 votes—although few people bother to go further than picking their top four or five choices).


So, as a public service to DigBoston’s Cambridge readers, I’ve put together the following list of all 26 city council candidates with one line or two to three phrases for each that I think encapsulates their campaign material, and a link to their website. Each of the six incumbents is noted with an asterisk. Hope it helps. Just try not to remember that an appointed city manager actually holds much of the power in the “People’s Republic.” (D’oh!)


Ronald Benjamin: wants to create community,


Josh M. Burgin: 25 ideas for Cambridge,


Dennis J. Carlone*: manage new development, true to community values,


Olivia D’Ambrosio: arts, but not a one-trick pony,


Jan Devereux*: civic engagement, sustainable growth,


Samuel Gebru: entrepreneur, community organizer,


Richard Harding Jr.: advocate for working families,


Craig A. Kelley*: vibrant local democratic institutions crucial to US,


Dan Lenke: little city halls, nano city halls, potlucks,


Ilan Levy: activist since 2006, fought for the Foundry, critic of the Volpe plan,


Alanna M. Mallon: prioritize public service by strengthening social safety nets,


Marc C. McGovern*: for collaboration and social/economic justice, gets results,


Gregg J. Moree: concerned about lack of options open for our young people,


Adriane B. Musgrave: fight so everyone in Cambridge has economic opportunity,


Nadya T. Okamoto: protect the concept of home for all Cantabrigians,


Hari I. Pillai: not selling out values just for more economic growth,


Jeff Santos: progressive broadcaster, backs affordable housing and a living wage,


Sumbul Siddiqui: affordable housing, economic development, civic engagement,


Denise Simmons*: understands unique needs of residents in our community,


Vatsady Sivongxay: bringing diverse voices to the decision-making table,


Bryan Sutton: can analyze complex systems and make data-driven decisions,


Sean Tierney: experienced public servant, dedicated to Cambridge,


Paul F. Toner: engaging people with a diversity of opinions to find solutions,


Timothy J. Toomey Jr.*: experience and vision to guide Cambridge’s continued growth,


Gwen Thomas Volmar: for affordable housing, against luxury high-rises,


Quinton Y. Zondervan: environmentalist, helped create the Net Zero Action Plan,


*indicates incumbent