Tuesday, July 16, 2024

There’s no doubt that this is a fractious election season in Cambridge. With all that divides us, I hope we can agree that voting and civic participation is crucial. That’s why we need to scrutinize how often each candidate has voted in municipal elections and what degree of engagement they have had in our city. More than a few current candidates have spotty records on both fronts.

Hao Wang has never voted in a municipal election in Cambridge, despite living here for 25 years and despite being registered since 2008. John Hanratty has lived here for decades but has voted only twice in the past 20 years. Carrie Pasquarello, Federico Muchnik and Ayesha Wilson all claim long residency but have voted sporadically at best. All of the candidates listed above were endorsed by the Cambridge Citizens Coalition. (Why didn’t CCC factor voting into its endorsement decisions?)

Some of these same candidates have had no civic engagement whatsoever in Cambridge. That doesn’t seem to bother CCC and  Cambridge Voters for Good Government, a new group that also endorsed Wang and Pasquarello, lauding their international credentials (which are also quite thin).

Voting is not hard or time consuming, and there are many voting options available. To me, it is disqualifying for a candidate to have a sparse voting history. Some candidates have robust voting records. I don’t support all of them, but I respect that they take civic responsibility seriously. There are also some younger candidates such as Sumbul Siddiqui who lived away from Cambridge for college and graduate school and voted where they lived. That is to be applauded and not penalized.

While it takes guts to run for office, it is an act of hubris if a candidate has not fulfilled the basic duties of citizenship.

Bliss Austin Spooner, Avon Hill Street