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Digging through Cambridge Candidates’ Trash

Update: Marjorie Decker’s pulled ahead, with 6 more today! I can only assume she forgot to mail them until now…

Our doorbell was ringing constantly this weekend, and not just on Halloween. The election for Cambridge City Council and School Committee is coming up on November 8, and the candidates (or their staffers) are really doing their due diligence in going door to door. I’ve gotten to the point where I just don’t answer anymore. Is this how people in New Hampshire feel during the primaries? The sheer amount of paper wasted is ridiculous!

That's a lot of paper.

So I decided to count up exactly how many flyers we received in our mailbox (or on our porch…or inside our front door). I know this is a minor thing, but it seems like an interesting thought experiment, since the candidates all say they care about environmental issues.

City Council

  • Marjorie Decker – 8
  • Henrietta Davis – 7
  • David Maher – 5
  • Denise Simmons – 3 (in a plastic bag!)
  • Minka vanBeuzekom – 3
  • Tim Toomey – 2
  • Leland Cheung – 2
  • Ken Reeves – 2
  • Charlie Marquardt – 2
  • Craig Kelley – 2
  • Matt Nelson – 1
  • Larry Ward – 1
  • Sam Seidel – 0
  • Tom Stohlman – 0
  • James Williamson – 0
  • Gregg Moree – 0
  • Gary Mello – 0
  • Jamake Pascual – 0
School Committee
  • Merven Osborne – 4
  • Alice Turkel – 4
  • Nancy Tauber – 3
  • Marc McGovern – 2
  • Fred Fantini – 2
  • Richard Harding – 2
  • Patty Nolan – 1
  • Bill Forster – 0
  • Joyce Gerber – 0
  • John Holland – 0
  • Charles Stead – 0

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s going to change who gets my #1 vote. I’m too passionate about Henrietta Davis, Minka vanBeuzekom (a Pragmatic Environmentalism reader!), and Leland Cheung—and now Merven Osborne—to decide on someone else based solely on their literature. However, some people I was lukewarm about did get bumped down the list because of it (I’m looking at you, Denise Simmons).

Some pieces really impressed me as being something more than just junk mail. Henrietta Davis sends out updates quarterly, with great information that we actually put on our refrigerator, like farmers market dates and locations, useful phone numbers, and local discounts. David Maher’s flyer unfolded into a window sign. Way to make it do double duty!

If you want to do your own research on the candidates, Robert Winters has some great profiles on each of them, as well as voting records for the incumbents. His busy site gives me a crazy old man vibe, but I think he does a better job covering Cambridge politics than Cambridge Chronicle.


Comment from Minka vanBeuzekom
Time November 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Thanks Brenda for doing this experiment for us. Looks like a combination of palm cards being dropped off and stuff sent in the mail. You and your housemates are definitely a targeted voters! and yes you should ding Denise for the plastic bag. How many of the flyers used post-consumer recycled paper?

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time November 3, 2011 at 11:21 pm

One of yours is the only 100% post-consumer paper. (I assume the glossy isn’t 100% recycled, right?) Leland Cheung’s is 50% recycled, 30% post-consumer. Davis, Marquardt, Nolan, and McGovern all have little recycled symbols but no more info. That’s it.

Comment from Leland Cheung
Time November 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Thank you for looking into this, Brenda. I remain committed to protecting and preserving our environment and make it a priority to use the highest amount of recycled and post-consumer paper whenever possible. Thanks very much for your kind words and support!

Comment from Helen Snively
Time November 5, 2011 at 12:11 am

just to correct the crazy old man vibe about Robert Winters. He’s not crazy, and not old.. or not yet. A real asset in Cambridge.

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time November 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Sorry! I think the cluttered graphic design and obsessive recording of Cambridge politics gives me that impression, but I really rely on his site.

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