Campaigning on a student-oriented platform that called for more late-night restaurants and transportation, casual night clubs and cheaper housing, MIT alumnus Matt DeBergalis nearly won a seat on the Cambridge City Council earlier this week.
DeBergalis (S.B. in computer science, S.B. in management, and M.Eng, 2000) received 1,206 first-place votes, more first-place votes than two of the councilors who were re-elected. But Cambridge uses a proportional representation form of voting, not a strict one-vote/one-candidate system, and DeBergalis was defeated in the 11th round.
Cambridge voters choose more than one candidate by ranking them in first place, second place and so on. Once a candidate receives the required number of first-place votes to be elected--2,009 in this case--the remaining ballots listing his/her in first place are placed in the piles of the voters' second choice, and so on until nine councilors are elected. All nine incumbents were re-elected.
One of the main goals of DeBergalis' campaign was to motivate students to get involved with local politics. His campaign literature told students they could vote in Cambridge without affecting residency in their hometowns. His campaign workers urged students to register earlier this fall, and held signs around campus on Nov. 4 reminding students to vote. The 26-year-old DeBergalis has lived in Cambridge since 1998; he founded a software startup company in the city earlier this year.
MIT alumna Aimee Smith (Ph.D. in materials science and engineering, 2002) garnered 480 votes in the city council election, running as a member of the Green-Rainbow Party on a platform that supported rent control, civil liberties and immigrant rights.