Tuesday, April 16, 2024

On Nov. 5 I’ll be voting for incumbents and non-incumbents. Though I am impressed with many of the newcomers on the ballot, my top-priority non-incumbents are Dennis Carlone, Dennis Benzan and Sam Seidel for City Council and Joyce Gerber for School Committee.

Carlone has been endorsed by members of the East Cambridge Planning Team, the effective citizens group working to keep Kendall Square from becoming a separate glass city. Their endorsement is all I need.

Benzan has an impressive record of community service, including with Bob Moses’ Algebra Project. His insightful comments at the community meeting after the Trayvon Martin verdict gave me hope that we can improve the racial climate in Cambridge if we work at it.

Let’s please bring back Seidel. Sam, along with Nancy Tauber, co-chaired the successful 2009 Blue Ribbon Commission on Middle Grade Youth, which created a detailed and comprehensive strategic plan for out-of-school-time education in Cambridge. (After-school, weekend and summer programs.) Sam understands that making speeches is not the same as making policy.

For School Committee, I’ll be voting for some or all of the incumbents, but my favorite non-incumbent is Joyce Gerber, who for the past two-plus years has contributed her time and her skills to making the Innovation Agenda work. The committee’s ugly and mismanaged process to create middle schools in Cambridge pitted parents against other parents and teachers against other teachers. Some of the most vocal participants in the debates disappeared after the vote, leaving the repair work to others. Not Joyce. She and a few other Cambridge Public School parents saw the mistrust between different school communities and, immediately after the Innovation Agenda vote, formed the Citywide School Advisory Group, an all-district parent group with representatives from every CPS school. As a member of CSAG’s steering committee, Joyce has put in hundreds of hours planning agendas, chairing meetings, speaking at committee meetings, analyzing the school department budget, meeting with the superintendent and working closely with the administration to help them create family directories for every school. She’s transparent, speaks her mind without attacking others, is an analytic thinker and doesn’t have a big ego. A champion of parent and guardian engagement, I am confident she will listen carefully and be responsive to the many different viewpoints of Cambridge parents and residents.

And who but Gerber would have the imagination and moxie to hire a precocious 11-year-old as her campaign manager? I hope young Zev Dickstein will stay on as her chief of staff.

Emily Dexter, Cambridge Rindge & Latin parent and member of the Citywide School Advisory Group