Why Can't Cambridge Choose a Mayor?

By Jordan Weinstein

Feb. 15, 2012

BOSTON — Despite eight attempts over a month and a half, the nine-member Cambridge City Council has yet to select a mayor from amongst themselves. The 7.1-square-mile home of Harvard, MIT and Carter’s Ink Company seems to experience Groundhog Day and mayoral gridlock every two years. To help us parse our way through the thicket of the Cambridge political jungle, we enlisted the aid of New England Cable News host and former Cambridge city councillor Jim Braude.

"Never have so many fought for so long for so little," Braude said.

Except for a spot on the School Committee, "the mayor's job has virtually no power ... the City Manager runs Cambridge," Braude said. However, this year the fight is holding up a proposed reorganization of the city's schools, Braude said. Could the city ever have an elected mayor? Braude originally ran for the City Council on a platform to change the mayor's job to an elected position. But "it went down to ignominious defeat."

The good news, Braude said, is that every two years, everyone eventually gets sick of the logjam and the majority manages to settle on a leader.

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