Thursday, June 13, 2024

Mervan Osborne, a candidate for School Committee, listens during a candidates forum as incumbent Patty Nolan speaks. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Among the 11 candidates for School Committee this year, there’s probably one way Mervan Osborne didn’t want to stand out: He hasn’t voted in municipal elections.

Contacted Friday through his campaign manager, Matt Dunkel, Osborne gave this statement:

“I became a U.S. citizen in 2003, and since then I’ve voted in every state and national election. It’s true that I’m new to municipal politics; my local expertise comes through my work with kids and families. And on that basis, I know I have a lot to offer the School Committee.”

Osborne, a Central Square resident, moved to Cambridge in 1994 from Los Angeles and taught for a dozen years at the private school Buckingham Browne & Nichols before becoming associate dean at the Boston-based Beacon Academy, which provides an extra year of high school for students. He also teaches a summer film and drama camp for Cambridge youth.

He is running for a seat on the committee, he said at a Thursday candidates forum, “because of a need for a fresh perspective on the issues confronting our public schools … I don’t believe we should be satisfied with mere ‘pockets of excellence.’ Every day I see firsthand the way that some of our schools are letting our kids down.”

In addition, at the Oct. 6 forum held at the YMCA, he boasted of how he encourages his students toward civic engagement and participating in community and democracy.

“I always talk to my students about how important I think civic engagement is. In fact, last night we all met at East End House [for a City Council candidates forum], several of my students came to sort of see what walking the walk looks like. So I’m pretty proud of that,” Osborne said.

Election Commission data merged by politics watcher Robert Winters from voter registration files, street listings and voter history files of 27 citywide elections show Osborne has been a blank on municipal elections back to 1997, although he voted in even-year state and national elections back to November 2004, including in September and November of 2006, in February and November 2008 and in January (to fill the seat of the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy) and November of last year. The sole odd-year election he voted in, 2009, wasn’t for Cambridge elections in November, but in the December primary to decide which Democrat would face Scott Brown in the next month’s election for Kennedy’s seat.

Other committee candidates, including the six incumbents, have a more solid voting record. Among the incumbents, Fred Fantini, Richard Harding and Patty Nolan have voted in every election dating back to November 1997, while Marc McGovern’s history dates back to November 1999; Nancy Tauber missed a vote early in 2004 but returned to vote in the November general election; and Alice Turkel missed a municipal election in 1999. Of the challengers, Bill Forster has voted in every election; Joyce Gerber missed city elections in 1997 and 1999; Charles L. Stead missed votes in November 2003 and March 2004; and John J. Holland is blank before November 2004, having moved to Cambridge eight years ago, but has voted in every election since.

Regardless of his voting record, Osborne says on his campaign website and in his forum appearances that he is committed to the city for the long term.

“I’ve lived in Cambridge for 15 years, it’s my home and I’m staying. My wife Lucy and I live in Central Square, and my sister Natasha just moved in with us. Lucy and I have big plans to start a family and we look forward to being able to send our kids to Cambridge public schools,” he said at Thursday’s candidates forum.