Sunday, May 19, 2024

City councillor Dennis Carlone brought ideas forward Tuesday (up to the first row of seats).

By far the best moment of Tuesday’s City Council candidates forum was one of the last – not because the event was nearly over, but because it was hilarious.

Councillor Dennis Carlone stood up and walked forward, mocking the behavior of Unity Slate candidates throughout the night.

The Unity Slate of seven of nine incumbent councillors (on Tuesday, slate members present were Tim Toomey, Craig Kelley, Dennis Benzan and Leland Cheung) used a similar playbook throughout the night: When answering an audience question, take the microphone and at least stand up; better yet, step forward commandingly. The approach was the product, challengers sighed after the event, of taking the advice of high-powered, well-paid campaign consultants.

Opinion boxIt was so clear so early in the night – vice mayor Benzan was already roving far forward during his responses – that the challengers who spoke immediately afterward made a point of doing the opposite. “I think I’ll remain seated,” Jan Devereux said upon being Benzan handing her the microphone, and when she handed it to Plinio DeGoes upon finishing her answer, he laughed and said, “I’m also going to stay seated.”

But the roving went on, nearly to the first row of chairs in The Broad Institute’s auditorium. (Whether upon the sage advice of political consultants or because he was naturally energized by the discussion, nearly every answer Toomey gave went significantly over time, with him speaking over the sound of the buzzer indicating he was out of time under the rules set by the host, the East Cambridge Planning Team.)

By the end of the night, Carlone clearly decided to have a little fun with it.

When moderator Susan Fleischmann of Cambridge Community Television asked the candidates’ final thoughts, Carlone took the microphone all the way onto the first tier of seats, straddling a chair to balance on the edge of the carpeted platform supporting it.

“I want you to know that I too can walk forward and be even closer to you than any other candidate,” Carlone said, to appreciative laughter from the audience and some scattered applause, before giving his answer.