We spoke today with candidate for Middlesex County Clerk Michael Sullivan, a veteran of the state judicial process, Cambridge City Council member for the past 12 years, and Mayor of Cambridge from 2002 until earlier this year.
Sullivan made his case for the job with poise, professionalism, and impressive preparation. He displayed an extraordinary familiarity with the details of the position, from the history of the computer systems in the Middlesex County courts — he said he supports online filings and supported free city-wide wireless access plans in Cambridge as Mayor — to the repair record of the elevators in the County Court building in East Cambridge. His experience as an Assistant Clerk pro tem in Cambridge and Lowell in 1985-6, Assistant District Attorney from 1986-91, and Assistant Attorney General from 1991-94 in the Consumer Protection division, clearly served him well.
“What can’t get lost is the human element. There is an aspect of service that is really important in government,” he said. “When I was Mayor of Cambridge every single phone call got returned.” I will testify that the Councillor responded at 5.24 AM this morning to an email I sent him last night at 9:08 PM about our talk this afternoon.
He responded to a question from Charley about how politicians answer requests for favors as follows: “As Mayor, whoever showed up at the front door and needed help got it, whether I knew you or I didn’t know you. Government doesn’t work all the time and people need help. When someone comes in and looks confused and lost, my goal is to help them.”
With respect to whether the Clerk position should be elected or appointed, he said: “What really counts is professionalism. I worry, though, when we move farther from the elected process. That process is good, for those of us who are running for office, to get us to get out into the community to listen to what is going on. The appinted process has no guaranteed connection to the community.”
He said a campaign website is coming.
We requested an interview with his challenger Bruce Desmond last week, at the same time as we requested one from Sullivan, but have not heard back from him.