When it comes to Cambridge city politics, I’m just your average uninformed citizen. I’m new to the area and just not incredibly interested in the local political scene. And so I’m the sort of person that people like me decry in national elections for making bad choices based solely on misleading campaign ads and biased press coverage.
But sometimes things hit a little too close to home, and you find yourself becoming That Guy.
There have been reports in recent months of increased crime in the seedier part of North Cambridge near Alewife station. Armed robberies, assault, even gun shots. And then two weeks ago at around midnight we heard five shots across the tracks at the Peabody School. A couple minutes later police cars were combing the area, zooming back and forth on Pemberton St., just 500 feet from the kitchen window.
When there are gunshots in your neighborhood, when violence and crime is increasing, you want immediate and decisive action. You start to ask questions like, would more CCTV cameras around Alewife cut down on crime there? Do we need more police patrols? How about random ID checks? Stricter gun control laws? Some sort of a buffer zone around the school? A curfew?
I’m not really wondering those things, not seriously. Well, except perhaps the first one. But if things got worse, don’t you think people would? Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you demand action? Some sort of change? When people feel powerless to control their own fates, they need something, even if it is a placebo, in which they can take comfort and feel safe. Some sort of action must be taken, some concrete step, some forward momentum. If we’re lucky, the action chosen might even make things better.
In my little laughably partisan local newspaper today is an ad by one Gregg Moree, candidate for Cambridge City Council. He writes that:
Most of us are tired of meetings and excuses. On the City Council, I will demand action. We need more police patrols and more police cooperation with the residents to solve crimes and enforce the law.
I don’t know anything about Gregg, except that he has a three-“g” first name. I don’t know anything about his opponents or about the current councilor. I don’t know what steps have been taken to prevent and contain street crime, and I don’t know what steps are in the works. All I know is that Gregg, who lives down the street, who has a picture in the paper with him standing in the underpass I walked through yesterday, the underpass by the gun fire, says he will take this issue seriously and he will make change.
We always have imperfect information. My choice at the poll next month is between Gregg and anyone else. I don’t know anything about anyone except that Gregg says he’s going to do something about the street crime. So really, armed with that information, why wouldn’t I vote for Gregg?