Sunday, July 14, 2024

A bike rack in Cambridge’s Central Square in June 2022. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Though Cambridge’s election season started slowly, the Nov. 7 ballot will likely have more candidates than in 2021.

To appear on the ballot, City Council and School Committee candidates needed to turn in nomination papers with between 50 and 100 valid voter signatures to the Election Commission by 5 p.m. Monday. At that time, the commission had certified signatures from 18 of 26 people who took nomination papers throughout July. Another six were waiting certification on their collected signatures. With possibly 24 candidates come November, this year’s ballot could be five names longer than last election.

Among the candidates is a group concerned about bicycle lanes – a topic that has dominated city politics like few others since passage of a Cycling Safety Ordinance in 2019 and 2020.

John Hanratty serves on the board of Cambridge Streets for All, a group that tried suing the city to undo bike-lane installations resulting from the ordinance. He has complained about inconsistent bike lane statistics and wrote an analysis saying the lanes have caused injuries to increase. 

Like Hanratty, Joan Pickett is a member of Cambridge Streets for All and has written about transportation and the potential dangers of electric bicycles.

Hanratty and Pickett were plaintiffs in the 2022 injunction case against the city that would have stopped Cambridge from building more protected bike lanes. It was denied in the Middlesex County Superior Court.

James Williamson, who has run for council four times before, also supported reforming street infrastructure, though he will not appear on the November ballot. A few minutes before 5 p.m. Monday, Williamson turned in a second sheet of signatures that would have put him over the 50-signature threshold. Because some of the information on the sheet had not been filled out, however, the commission staff said they could not count the signatures, leaving him at only 46.

“I admit it. I goofed. (Easy to do in this situation). I do, however, wonder why this apparent ‘glitch’    given it’s evidently having tripped up numerous other potential candidates before    has not and should not be corrected, to avoid similar unnecessary mishaps in the future,” Williamson said in a letter published in Cambridge Day. He encouraged supporters to vote for him as a write-in.

New council candidates

Along with Williamson, Nathaniel Sandalou-Ash, who took out his nomination papers Monday, fell below the 50-signature threshold. He turned in no signatures.

Sandalou-Ash was one of the few candidates to take nomination papers in the past two weeks. These candidates also include: Hanratty; Hao Wang, a West Cambridge resident who says he has been a manager of large businesses and nonprofits; Doug Brown, a Fresh Pond Residents Alliance board member who has proposed green zoning to the council over the years; and Federico Muchnik, a filmmaker and adjunct faculty member at Lesley University. (Disclosure: Muchnik has written about film for Cambridge Day.)

In the Nov. 7 election, Cambridge voters will elect nine at-large city councillors, who will serve two-year terms. After they take office, the councillors will elect one of their own as mayor.

School Committee

The School Committee race has also gotten a few new names recently, though only two collected enough signatures to appear on the November ballot: Elizabeth Hudson of Neighborhood 9 and Richard Harding, a former School Committee member from The Port who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2017.

Of the 15 committee candidates who took nomination papers, six have at least 50 signatures officially certified. Four additional candidates have turned in enough signatures but await official certification. If all 10 of these candidates end up on the ballot, there will be one more candidate than in 2021. 

Voters will elect six School Committee members in November. The mayor heads the School Committee.

The council will see at least three new members join its ranks for the first time since 2017, as vice mayor Alanna Mallon and councillors Dennis Carlone and Quinton Zondervan chose to not run. School Committee member Fred Fantini is retiring, and Ayesha Wilson has launched a council bid, meaning the committee will have at least two new faces. 

Election Commission staff have until Aug. 14 to certify signatures on nomination papers. The deadline for municipal candidates to file a withdrawal of nomination is Aug. 16.