Fourteen city candidates get certified jump on November; paid poll workers needed
Midway through the month when City Council and School Committee candidates can pick up their nomination papers and must file them, election commissioners certified signatures from a dozen council hopefuls and eight potential committee members.
Candidates must file no fewer than 50 and no more than 100 certifiable signatures of registered voters in Cambridge.
Nine of the dozen council hopefuls have met that requirement: challengers Kim Courtney, Plinio T. Degoes Jr., Jan Devereux and Lesley R. Phillips, and incumbents Dennis Benzan, Leland Cheung, Marc McGovern, E. Denise Simmons and Tim Toomey.
Five of the eight committee hopefuls have met the requirement: challengers Manikka L. Bowman and returning candidate Elechi M. Kadete, and incumbents Alfred B. Fantini, Richard Harding Jr. and Fran Albin Cronin.
Not every signature was accepted – often because someone who lives outside Cambridge and isn’t eligible to vote signed a candidate’s sheet anyway. It’s possible for neither the signer nor person collecting signatures to realize that’s a problem.
“If you’re standing on the street saying ‘Will you sign,’ some people will just sign,” said Larry Ward, chairman of the commission.
The signatures gathered for Cheung – who had 52 provisional numbers certified on Election Commission documents out of 75 that were turned in July 8 – revealed the problem of people who fall into the “wrong district” category by living on the Cambridge-Somerville line. Signers living at Harvard University’s Holden Green Housing can be confused by having a Cambridge mailing address despite having a residence that that is actually in Somerville, said Lesley Waxman, assistant director of the city’s Election Commission. The housing complex straddles the line.
Nomination papers became available July 1 and must be turned in by the end of the business day July 31, leaving candidates who haven’t hit the level of 50 certified signatures half the month to get the rest. For the council, those who are partway to their 50 signatures include Mariko Davidson, second-time candidate Gary W. Mello and former councillor Minka vanBeuzekom – who submitted 53 signatures only a single day after nomination papers became available but had only 46 of them certified. For the committee, that includes challenger David J. Weinstein and incumbents Kathleen M. Kelly and Patricia Nolan.
In 2013, there were 34 candidates for political office, 25 of them running for council – up from 18 in the 2011 elections. There are other candidates this year who are waiting to submit signatures, including declared council hopefuls John Sanzone and Romaine Waite.
“Next meeting gets complicated. It’s the final batch,” said election commissioner Polyxane Cobb, referring to when the July 31 deadline came and the rest of the signatures had to be in for certification.
But even that was complicated, as the commission’s next scheduled meeting is July 29. The commissioners added a short meeting for certifications only at 5:30 p.m. Aug 1, and “we’ll just let it go and I’ll cancel it” if there are no more signatures, Cobb said.
Unlikely, Waxman pointed out. It was more likely there would be many signatures coming in the last day.
Poll workers needed
The commission is also stepping up efforts to find registered state voters to work at polling locations on voting days. More than 200 are needed, but – despite the positions earning between $14.95 and $16.95 an hour – so far this year there has been a small response to fill a need estimated to be at least 20 or 30 people. There is a recruitment session at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 5, but people must submit an application by Aug. 3 to attend. (Applications can be made to the commission over the Web or by visiting the commission offices at 51 Inman St., Mid-Cambridge.)
Experienced workers sometimes move away, Cobb said, and there have been deaths among older poll workers.