News and Press

Boston Globe: Cambridge boy is (growing) up-and-coming operative

CAMBRIDGE — If he were a foot taller, shaved, and cursed a bit, 11-year-old Zev Dickstein just might pass for the typical political campaign manager.

Every day after school, using a database he developed, Zev identifies people he thinks he can persuade to vote for School Committee candidate Joyce Gerber. Bounding from house to house, he knocks on doors, shakes hands, pets dogs, makes his pitch, and reminds voters that election day is Nov. 5 . Sometimes he even high-fives supporters.

Then Zev confers with his chaperone (usually his mother).

“I can’t go by myself,” said the sixth-grader from Cambridge Street Upper School, who has to persuade one of his parents or sometimes his grandmother to tag along. “That is the hardest thing I have to do in my history of campaigning — finding someone to go with me.”

Since the summer, Zev has been serving as the campaign manager for Gerber as she challenges eight other candidates for six Cambridge School Committee seats in this fall’s municipal election.

Gerber had posted a job listing for a campaign manager at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government looking for someone to fill the job. But then the 48-year-old attorney said she had a conversation with Zev, and she was impressed by his knowledge about databases and finding likely voters, so she offered him the job.

“I thought she was kidding,” Zev said.

Gerber said she had seen Zev before working for Democrat Elizabeth Warren’s US Senate campaign and then earlier this year she met Zev while he was canvassing for votes on behalf of then Democratic senatorial candidate Edward J. Markey.

When she offered Zev the job managing her campaign, Gerber said they had a disagreement over the Cambridge “Innovation Agenda” she supported that put youngsters in the middle grades into separate upper schools. But Gerber said Zev took some time to think about the offer, and then he wrote he a nice note saying he wanted to do it.

“I think I made a good choice,” Gerber said. “I think my husband was a little bit skeptical when I first told him, but after he met him, everybody was on board.”