As the election for Cambridge City Council on Nov. 8 nears, I urge you to consider voting for challengers ahead of incumbents.

The government of Cambridge has been extraordinarily stable. Our city has had the same city manager in office for over two decades and we last elected a new city councilor in 2001. Yet all institutions need to renew themselves if they are to remain vital and responsive.

New ideas and new voices must be heard. The city is changing rapidly, and the government needs to change with it, but there are substantial barriers to healthy, evolutionary change in Cambridge.

Challengers in city elections face an unusual hurdle because of our preferential voting system. The wider name recognition enjoyed by incumbents gives them an enormous advantage over outsiders. I know. I ran for city council in 2003 and 2001.

With all nine incumbents running for re-election, there is one way to level the playing field and make it possible for new voices to be heard in City Hill next year. Voters must vote for challengers before incumbents, so challengers get both the No. 1 and transfer votes that it takes to get elected.

There are four challengers with solid credentials who are running vigorous campaigns for City Council. In alphabetic order they are:

Lawrence Adkins, at adkinsforcambridge.com or info@adkinsforcambridge.com.

Jesse Gordon, at jessegordon.org or campaign@jessegordon.org.

Craig Kelley, at CraigKelley.org or Votecraig@att.net.

Sam Seidel, at samseidel.org or info@samseidel.org

I urge you to take a few minutes to consider these candidates and to vote for at least two of them at the top of your ballot for City Council on Nov. 8. — No. 1 and No. 2.  Evolutionary change will be good for Cambridge.

John Pitkin

Fayette Street