Saturday, July 13, 2024

Gregg Moree at a 2017 election forum at the Cambridge Main Library. (Photo: Marc Levy)

As ballots and voting machines were being wheeled into Tuesday’s election-night count in Central Square, perennial City Council candidate Gregg Moree navigated his white Chrysler Voyager through the streets of North Cambridge. Only meters from his apartment on Fairfield Street, he drove it into a parked car.

An airbag deployed. Inside the Chrysler, Moree was unconscious, a 911 caller told police.

Fire and medical personnel arrived quickly to the 9:50 p.m. collision. Moree wasn’t breathing. They did chest compressions for a long time. “It looked very bad,” according to an account by someone who was present. On Wednesday, police confirmed a death during that crash.

Moree’s body was taken to Mount Auburn Hospital at 10:15 p.m. while police tried to contact anyone at his home on Fairfield, the same street where he grew up. They determined he lived alone.

His red, white and blue campaign signs have been ubiquitous and Moree a genial but erratic figure at forums in the council elections in which he’s competed for the past nine terms – since 2007, when he saw through a campaign while facing charges of attacking his ex-wife at her home in Belmont. He was arrested at gunpoint.

He didn’t win that year – nor in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021 or this year, appearing as the No. 1 vote on only 24 ballots. Two years ago it was 68, and in 2019 it was 70. During the 2013 race, when he emerged with only 38 votes, it was determined that he’d spent the most per vote of any candidate: $81.61, when the average was only $33.88.

But he campaigned on, giving simple responses behind a progressive agenda on everything from energy policy (“I support Net Zero and I encourage alternative energy for new developments. We have to consider the future and not just profits”) to Planned Parenthood (“I support Planned Parenthood and the right of women everywhere to choose”) and “human and animal rights” (“We, and our animal friends, all should have the freedom to be who we are, and want to be, without fear”).

He did not, however, think on his feet. Asked during a candidate forum in 2019 whether Cambridge was addicted to growing its commercial base, he replied: “I support growth, but I support affordable housing. They give us the business, we give them the business, you know, that’s business. So that’s a good way to go.”

On the campaign trail and in everyday life, he seemed even more interested in a family boat called the Honey Fitz – after an Oct. 27 candidate conversation at CCTV studios he handed out DVDs about the boat to participants befuddled about how to even watch – and how his uncle Joe Sakey helped write a “second bill of rights” for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944. He was obsessed with political celebrity, which he captured in an impressive array of selfies taken with Kennedys, Elizabeth Warren, onetime Democratic leader Debbie Wasserman Schulz and many more. Next to a campaign website link to watch a 2019 candidate video is an unexplained image of Caroline Kennedy. It is labeled “Caroline Kennedy.” There is no link.

Moree was a lifelong Cantabrigian, a graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and a carpenter. He died at 66 never knowing the outcome of his latest run for council – though a last-place finish likely wouldn’t have mattered much. He would have just set about gearing up for his 10th campaign in 2025.