It's Summer time & the politics ain't easy
Memorial Day Weekend has offered us the chance to reflect and recharge our batteries before the long hot summer.
With soldiers continuing to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, the importance of honoring the dead
becomes clearer, and the holiday changes from being just another long weekend to a time of real significance, even if most Cantabridgians are removed from the fighting and those doing it.
Cambridge, of course, scheduled a Peace Day in early June, to juxtapose against the war-related Memorial Day holiday.
Since the Vietnam War we have learned to revere peace without blaming soldiers for decisions made by politicians.
On a lighter note, Memorial Day is also the start of summer, and that means that it’s the political season again.
Usually, an odd-year election in Cambridge is a City Council race. Not this year. Two other major races will be determined by the end of summer.
The first is the vacancy left by Senator Robert Travaglini, whose district covers parts of East Cambridge. When candidates Anthony Petrucelli and Dan Rizzo came to Cambridge to talk about their campaigns, a major concern among Cambridge voters was: will you come and see us once you’ve been elected. Travaglini was known for his lack of interest in the Cambridge side of the district, and people don’t want a repeat of that.
I agree with them. The best outcome would have been a run by our own Tim Toomey, but he decided against it.
Whoever does end up getting that seat, they’ve made promises to Cambridge, and there are a whole bunch of people who expect them to keep it.
The second, of course, is the departure of Cambridge’s own Jarrett Barrios, who will be leaving the state senate to head up the Blue Cross Foundation. Barrios’s departure sets the wheels in motion, because there is more than one Cambridge elected official who has publicly indicated a desire for higher office. The guessing game has already begun as to which city councillor will take this chance.
Names offered so far as possibilities are City Councillors Anthony Galluccio, Marjorie Decker and perhaps State Rep. Alice K. Wolf, who decided against it when Jarrett first vacated his seat for his aborted Middlesex County District Attorney run.
All of this, of course, directly impacts the City Council race to be decided in November. I have already begun telling people that I am going to make another run for a seat there, and I noted with some humor today that New Jersey is set to pass a law barring so-called “double-dipping”, the holding of more than one elective office at the same time. Of course, we currently have two councillors who do just that, and if one of our own is elected to the state senate, we could have a third.
There are two great problems with double-dipping. The first, and the most obvious one, is conflict of interest. Conflicts, even the possibility or appearance of conflicts, are a real problem because they undermine our confidence in our system, which can reverberate deeply.
The second problem is the shutting out of new voices. In a state that is as politically active as Massachusetts, there are plenty of bring young men and women who would very much like to take part in the public debate. We ought to make room for them, because fresh voices and ideas will have a positive and beneficial impact on our civic life.
Has New Jersey set a trend? I won’t bet on it, but it is something the sitting councillors should be thinking about. Do I argue simply out of self interest?
No. It’s a complaint I’ve heard from others too, and it makes sense to me. In my last article, I asked if Cambridge politics was dead. I still don’t know that I know the answer to that question.
I do know more voices lead to the broader discussion and diversity of views we need to revive our tired local debate.