Who do you trust with a billion bucks?

The Preliminary Election is scheduled for September 24th, and registration closes for new voters for that election on September 4. Register now or forever hold whatever pieces you've got left after this batch of "the elect" decide your future.

If you believe our elected officials, in the next 4 to 7 years, the federal, state, and city government will spend over $1.4 billion in our city of 4.2 square miles and 73,000 people. If you don't believe them, why did you elect them in the first place? Either way, therefore, we all ought to think hard - and soon - about who we trust with that kind of investment. It's bigger than a breadbox.

It is a new Green Line. Along with little widgets like a $45,000,000 library; a new theater in Union Square; $8,000,000 for those dumps next to where the new Union Square station will go; and other similar, "modest" expenses, there is a large amount of money on the table, and many, many new hands ready to spend it.

It is not a coincidence that there are so many contested races in Somerville this year.

Frankly, I trust few people with those kinds of decisions. Of the three preliminary races we face on September 24 - Wards 1 and 3, for Alderman and Ward 5 for School Committee - I favor Matt McLaughlin for Ward 1, Suzanne Bremer for Ward 3, and Laura Pitone for Ward 5 School Committee. All three - as well as some of their opponents - made a pitch for our votes to the Progressive Democrats, as well as on SCAT and PATCH online, here (http://somerville.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/alderman-and-school-committee-candidates...). Given what's at stake, you - and your kids, and your kids' kids - will have a lot riding on this election, so you owe it to yourself - and to them - to watch them.

For that matter, students - anyone over 18 and a citizen - should watch, and should register by Wednesday, September 4, and make sure to vote. The changes in our city will never be as dramatic as they will in the next few years, and few - of any age - will have as much to see, to say, and to win as those of us who are here now. For students - whether in high school, Tufts, MIT, Harvard or Lesley - a vote here does not mean you can't re-register later in Arizona or elsewhere. It does mean that you can have a say in how this city changes, dramatically, in the next few years.

Those three were also favored by the Progressive Democrats of Somerville. It seems to me that, with so much at stake, any candidate who does NOT bother with every possible endorsement either has no opposition in this particular preliminary or is crooked, and expects to lose or to win a rigged race. In other words, given that they really ask for your vote, these three - and some of their alternates - are more likely to act independently, and to solve problems as they arise, rather than apply fixed solutions to problems that they've never imagined. For the unimagined is most probable.

As a Ward 3 resident, I'm most for Suzanne Bremer. She asks smart questions and isn't trapped into the Yuppie, Townie, or Old Guard parties. She works with all of 'em. That is rare. It's also true of Matt McLaughlin and Laura Pitone, at least in the conversations - now going back nearly a decade - I've shared with them and their friends. That is not true of most of their opponents. I go to lots of meetings - I'm retired and have the time, and, by now, know people of all parties. These three stand out as often attending, often asking and suggesting new ideas, and ready to work with others. Most of the others are far less experienced, far more narrow, or far more trapped in a Somerville which really won't be like it is now, after a few terms on a Board or School Committee that faces what these guys will face. Either the city will be twice as rich as it is now, or half as rich, having once again been betrayed by state and federal transit developers. Either way, these guys are important to our survival and success.

Never in our history - or in the history of most communities our size - has so spending in so short a time achieved an impact as what we face here and now. As an historian, I studied the history of the New York City subway expansion - and no where was it as concentrated as what we now face. And New York and Boston were the first, and most dramatic, of any American transit construction. Somerville faces the biggest change in its history, in as short a time as the next high school generation. That is a very serious challenge, indeed, and, given that your first vote is in three weeks in a preliminary few of us have looked into, look now or forever hold your peace - or whatever of your pieces exist after that explosive growth.

About a decade ago I ran into some neighbors after voting in some election or other. I asked if they'd voted yet. "Oh, no, didn't you notice, we don't bother. They don't pay attention to us anyway." "OK," said I, "more for me and less for you!" Now they vote. So should you.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lucas Friedlaender August 27, 2013 at 09:24 AM
Nice write up Joe. BUT... what about Ward 5 Alderman?
Joe Beckmann August 27, 2013 at 09:40 AM
Ward 5 doesn't have a preliminary election - there are only 2 candidates. Let's fight the fights we have, and then the next ones.


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