'19 Election Process

The Cambridge Residents Alliance 2019 Election Process Summary

The Cambridge Residents Alliance Board of Directors met on June 13, 2919 to discuss our 2019 City Council Election Goals and Strategies. The members agreed to appoint an Election Committee and that we would participate in the election with the following goals:

  • Elect a majority of candidates to the Council who prioritize our issues as described in our Platform
  • Educate our members and the broader public about our issues
  • Engage our members in these election efforts
  • Increase our membership
  • Demonstrate popular support that draws one or more incumbents to our agenda
  • Create a larger base of progressive activists in Cambridge
  • Increase our engagement with candidates
  • Provide strategic support for candidates we choose, and engage more with candidates we may support to know them better.

The Board decided that we would not use a Cambridge Residents Alliance  candidate questionnaire as a basis of making our endorsements but could utilize other questionnaires to which we would have access. We did not interview incumbents as we have been meeting with those whom the Cambridge Residents Alliance endorsed in 2017 on a regular basis. We arranged interviews with candidates after studying the status of their campaigns through internet research and community conversations. Each candidate would be interviewed by several members at a time. Candidates were selected for interviews based on the following criteria:

  • History in Cambridge including activism and participation in advocacy
  • Ties to groups in and around Cambridge
  • Agreement with our Platform
  • Refusal of corporate contributions as specified in our Platform
  • Voting record for incumbents
  • Candidate has a viable campaign (e.g. website, manager and/or solid volunteers, fundraising capacity)

All interviews utilized the following questions:

  1. What are your key policy points, and why are you running?
  2. Please describe your campaign structure, fundraising capacity, volunteer participation, web site and social media presence.
  3. What do you think works and doesn’t work in our City government?
  4. Have you read the CResA Platform (which was sent by link to every interviewee)? What excites you in our platform? What do you disagree with?
  5. What are your key affiliations and community ties? How do you connect broader priorities with local issues in Cambridge? What is your history of activism here and/or elsewhere?

6.What do you think of the effort to keep the East Cambridge Courthouse site in public hands? Would you vote to approve a long-term lease of 420 public parking spaces in the city-owned garage to enable a private developer to acquire the courthouse property?

  1. What are your major climate crisis concerns locally? Are there measures you would and would not support to deal with the climate crisis?
  2. How can we best protect tenants?
  3. What are your concrete strategies to increase affordable housing in Cambridge, not including the Affordable Housing Overlay proposal? (could include transfer tax on housing and/or commercial buildings, increased property taxes, higher inclusionary rates and linkage fees, “super-inclusionary” zoning, etc.)
  4. How would you manage growth in Cambridge in relationship to transportation, traffic, open space, local retail? What policies would you put in place regarding commercial development? Should the city prioritize commercial growth or residential growth more?
  5. Should the City require universities to create significantly more housing for undergrads, grad students and fellows before giving any zoning relief or other permits?
  6. What is your thinking about campaign finance for local elections? Do you accept campaign contributions from real estate developers and those closely affiliated with them? Should Cambridge join Boston in registering local lobbyists? Should there be any restrictions on councilors voting on zoning for projects sought by developers who have donated to the councilors?

Interviews were conducted beginning in July on a rolling basis, starting with candidates who appeared to meet most of the criteria. In all, 7 (?) non-incumbent candidates were interviewed by the middle of August. Where questions remained, 2 candidates were invited for second interviews.

The Board decided that we would meet during the first week of September to decide on our endorsements and announce them in the second week.

Following a conversation with the State of MA Office of Campaign and Political Finance, it was recommended that we should form a Political Action Committee, as our 501 c4 status would not allow the level of expenditures we have made in the past in relation to our total fundraising. In July, 2019, we filed to form the Democracy for Cambridge PAC with Richard Krushnic as President, Jonathan King as Treasurer and Nancy Ryan as Agent. We established a Depository Account as required with Citizens Bank and have begun to report contributions.


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