Political campaigns in Cambridge are expensive and funding sources matter. Fortunately, it is easy to track that information here. Most of us turn to the independent and regularly updated Cambridge Civic run by mathematician Robert Winters, who for many years before many of the political groups now in play were formed provided this and other information on the city. He derives his data directly from the Mass state OCPF site where all donations and expenses are listed. We look at two key issues in our evaluations: percentage funding from real estate interests and percentage funding from individuals who live outside of Cambridge. ALL of our donations this campaign cycle have come from individuals living in Cambridge; more than 20% of the funding from the competitor ABC-IE pac come from sources outside Cambridge. We have used these two factors (real estate and sources from outside Cambridge) as two of the several critical reasons for selecting our four endorsees – Nicola Williams, Patty Nolan, Dennis Carlone, and Dana Bullister. When candidates take sizable funding from real estate interests it suggests that on some issues, they may be more inclined to vote in a manner that benefits these interests. Sizable funding from individuals living outside Cambridge makes one question how closely aligned these candidates’ interests are with local residents. We have chosen to leave off this chart those candidates who received donations of less than $20,000. Why? Because many first-time candidates (ours and those on other slates) often get start-up funds from family and friends, many of whom live out of state. This year, the candidates below the threshold include CCC's endorsee Dana Bullister as well as Tonia Hicks (endorsed by ABC, CResA, and OR) along with many of the other candidates who were not endorsed - Robert Eckstut, Ilan Levy, Greg Moree, and Frantz Pierre.
We urge people to evaluate this data and select their own voting order 1-2-3-4 or more, and also ask that voters study the candidate platforms (these links also available on Cambridge Civic) and look closely at what other activities these candidates have been involved with in Cambridge related to the array of issues facing the city.
We also urge people to study our circle chart below showing the local political group landscape as laid out in the image here as well as in our blogpost: Charting the Cambridge Political Landscape: 2021 City Council Election Alliances in Text and Image This highlights the relationship between candidates and different political pacs some of which have national ties. For example, ABC and DSA candidates tend to receive more funding from individuals outside of Cambridge in part due to these other interest groups.
Together the circle chart of political alliances and the two funding graphs offer important insights into the ways in which some candidates are aligned and how this may impact the kinds of issues that may enter into their decisions on Council.
10.24.21 Christopher Schmidt (treasurer of ABC-IE) criticizes CCC for leaving off one of its own candidates (Dana Bullister) from the chart of donations from outside Cambridge: We urge him to reread the graph and the accompanying text (which also appears in his tweet). This text specifies that we have only included candidates that received more than $20,000 in donations. The reason is delineated above. This is why not only were Bullister (CCC) and Hicks (ABC, CresA, and OR) not included, but so too were various non-endorsed candidates left out (Eckstut, Levy, Moree and Pierre). While Levy and Moree frequently run for City Council they have not received enough funding or votes in the past to factor significantly in the standings.
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