070613i-Luis-VasquezMr. Jefferson Smith,

Although I am a City Council candidate myself, I write to you as an alarmed lifelong Cantabrigian. On Tuesday you put out a short press release inviting people to join you for a “meet and greet” at the senior center in Central Square that you described as an “opportunity to further engage our seniors.”

As a political strategy, I understand: You want to build rapport with some of the most influential voters in the city. Unfortunately, for some candidates buttering up the senior population for votes is a part of the game. For others, however, caring for the needs of our senior citizens actually stems from a genuine place in their priorities.

Here are my two issues with publicizing an (at the time) upcoming appearance at the senior center:

bullet-gray-smallIn the past, how often did you create opportunities to engage our elders before you entered the race for City Council? I read your platform and I was hoping to find language related to senior living; I did not. Why all of a sudden publicize your care for their needs now with less than two months remaining until Election Day?

bullet-gray-smallI would have let this go by had I not seen the most distasteful part in my opinion: “The event is open to the press.” Really? Why do cameras and reporters need to be on the scene to validate you playing nice with seniors?

It feels as though you are taking advantage of a vulnerable population to help you gain some ground. Myself and other concerned neighbors are slightly offended by this approach. My campaign run has been huge a blessing for me to simply have the opportunity to relish my Cambridge roots in a very welcoming and encouraging community, one that gave so much to me while growing up. It has been an absolute pleasure to run into and hang out with other influential leaders in our city that are connecting with people as often as I am, election year or non-election year – Marc McGovern and Dennis Benzan, to name a couple. It’s who we are.

I admit that I do not have the deepest political experience; my approach is very community based – it’s what I’m passionate about, and it’s an element I hope to bring to the City Council. That being said, I do speak for myself when I say that requesting the presence of the press to validate your ability to connect with people, at the expense of our seniors, is concerning.

I’d like to share with you an interesting read by a fellow candidate, Gary Mello, in Cambridge Day.

Sincerely,

Luis Vasquez, candidate for City Council