A Sad State of Affairs
For the first time in 100 years or so there was no need for an election primary in this city. The question has arisen - are people satisfied or complacent? Or maybe are they simply afraid of taking on those already in power? More than likely, the answer is all three.
We couldn't be more bored. With one exception, the challengers in this election are either not viable or being propped up by a wanna-be political machine that shouts buzzwords but is only interested in throwing out one group for their own. It's disappointing given the empowerment so many people supposedly felt after last year's presidential election.
The following endorsements are to be read keeping in mind that the choices are few. The question comes to does one support the sole challenger simply because he or she is new or do you go with the devil you know? This year, we're sticking with the tried and true.
While we wish that in a city with as vibrant a community as ours there are multiple choices for elective office, we've been more than pleased with Joe Curtatone's performance as Mayor during his last two terms. Certainly winning the All-America City award had a lot to do with his leadership, and it was a moment that all of Somerville shared.
Ultimately, however, that award means little compared to the actual improvement we've seen in this city. We could not have a more fiercely determined advocate for progress on the Green Line. The final pieces of the police department reorganization are coming together. He certainly hasn't been afraid to make tough decisions, especially during our ongoing budget crisis. He dove headfirst into citywide permit parking, a divisive issue that we're hoping he would have pursued even if he weren't guaranteed a new term.
To keep things interesting, it would be interesting to see a viable challenger discussing the issues with him during the next election cycle - assuming he's not on Capitol Hill by then - but for now we have no problem telling you to vote for the one choice you have. We could do a lot worse.
Ward 6 Alderman
This is tough. The Progressive Democrats of Somerville is perhaps the most secretive pseudo-government body in Somerville (besides the Traffic Commission), and Rebekah Gewirtz is without question the center of the group. On the other hand, we would like to support Campano, but his NIMBY attitude really isn't an antidote to Gewirtz's faux-transparency. We're holding out hope that Ward 6 will someday have an alderman more concerned about the well being of constituents than politics.
Maybe next time we'll have a chance to enthusiastically root for one of Gewirtz's challengers. This year, vote blank.
Here again we run into the same issue: PDS. Luis Morales, their candidate, is a religious leader, which is clearly at odds with much of their agenda (see Ward 5 endorsement below). That means one thing to us: the PDS believes that since this guy is Latino he automatically deserves a seat on the Board.
We don't necessarily disagree that the Board is sorely lacking in diversity, but at the end of the day, the BOA is about effectiveness, and the current crop of aldermen-at-large have been some of the most effective on the Board in a long, long time.
At the risk of seeming like hypocrites for decrying the lack of challengers and then endorsing all the incumbents, we see no reason to vote anyone out in favor of Morales. Maybe if he had run on his own initiative it would be different, but for now we're happy to endorse Jack Connolly, Bruce Desmond, Dennis Sullivan and Bill White.
Each of them brings a unique point of view to the Board. Desmond brings his school committee experience and determination to not let issues get swept under the rug - the Max Pac site is just one example. Sullivan, who will host his 100th office hour on Saturday, is possibly the most accessible member. Connolly brings his experience as a long-time advocate for Davis Square from the days when cafes and all the marks of a beautiful neighborhood were still unknown.
White is easily the most intelligent voice on the Board, and has kept the mayor's office in check more times in the past six months than we can keep count. Out of all of them, White is perhaps the most important voice on the Board. And hey, remember when he was a Republican? Here's proof we agree with a PDS endorsement every once in a while.
Ward 4 School Committee
We're pleased to endorse News Editor-in-Chief Jamie Norton, who has served effectively and passionately since being elected two years ago. Students at the Arthur D. Healey and Winter Hill Community School have benefited from his advocacy. A far cry from his PDS-created opponent, who appears to make things up as she goes along, Jamie has a quiet, yet informed, and very efficient manner about him - and he gets things done.
Norton has been a voice of reason on a committee that often finds itself bogged down in issues beyond its control. For the past two years, he has been a level-headed and hardworking voice for the ward he has lived in his entire life.
Ward 5 School Committee
Mark Niedergang, a so-called Progressive Democrat, has really managed to put his foot in his mouth this year. He came out against religion and patriotism as worthwhile reasons for school holidays, then spent much more time "going negative" (and advising others to go negative) than even our own infamous Newstalkers.
Anna Lavanga, a long-time PTA member, is more than qualified to take his place and we're pleased to endorse her, a non-PDS aligned challenger, who is running for the right reason: our children. Mark Niedergang is only looking out for himself, period.