Saturday, July 20, 2024

Cambridge School Committee member Ayesha Wilson takes out nomination papers Monday to run for City Council. (Photo: Kate Wheatley)

Nomination papers for the Nov. 7 election becoming available affirmed the feeling it would be a quieter than usual campaign season in Cambridge, but with some surprises.

There are nine City Council seats and six School Committee seats, all at-large and on two-year terms, that will be decided at the polls.

Eleven nomination papers for council seats were taken by the time Election Commission offices closed Monday, the first day of availability, and only one for School Committee – the already announced Eugenia Schraa – though there will be two available seats. One is being vacated by member Fred Fantini, who said Tuesday that he is retiring after serving for 40 years.

The other emptying seat: committee member Ayesha Wilson, who has taken out papers in a bid to switch to the council. 

There will be at least two new faces on the council too, as two incumbents have decided against running: vice mayor Alanna Mallon and councillor Dennis Carlone.

Robert Winters takes out City Council campaign nomination papers Monday at Cambridge’s Election Commission offices. (Photo: Kate Wheatley)

Challengers in addition to Wilson who took out papers Monday for a council run: Robert Winters, a math lecturer and longtime politics watcher who runs the Cambridge Civic Journal website and ran unsuccessfully for the council in 1993 and 1995; Dan Totten, a longtime aide to councillor Quinton Zondervan who could now be either an ally or replacement; James Williamson, a City Hall gadfly and unsuccessful council candidate in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015; and Joan Pickett, who has spoken out frequently in the past months over problems resulting from the installation of separated bike lanes.

The challengers for a council seat also include: Vernon Walker of Kendall Square, a program director at the organization Communities Responding to Extreme Weather; English-as-a-second-language educator Ayah Al-Zubi of Mid-Cambridge; and Adrienne Klein of Porter Square, director of constituent services for Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui.

Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, who served on the council 2020-2021, has announced a run but did not take out papers Monday, while Joe McGuirk, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2019, was the first council candidate in the commission’s offices Monday.

Four council incumbents have declared for reelection runs: Siddiqui and councillor Marc McGovern, who took out papers Monday, and Burhan Azeem and Paul Toner. Incumbent Patty Nolan said on Monday that she would announce her intentions soon. Zondervan and E. Denise Simmons, the longest-serving councillor, have yet to declare too.

The deadline for nominees to file their papers is 5 p.m. July 31. Nominees must file no fewer than 50 and no more than 100 certifiable signatures of registered Cambridge voters to be on the Nov. 7 ballot.

At this time two years ago, there were 18 nomination papers taken out for the council and four for the committee, ultimately becoming 19 council candidates and nine committee candidates on the ballot.

Past races have seen candidates declaring as early as a year before Election Day; in this case, the first official notice for the campaign season was in June, and it was Mallon’s decision not to run. 

This post was updated July 5, 2023, to correct the spelling of Ayah Al-Zubi.