SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Election

September 26, 2012

Reflections on Romney

Local, state officials look back on former governor

(Continued)

“He had the fortitude to say, ‘I won’t accept anything less than what’s right for the people of Massachusetts,’” Tarr said. “He was absolutely unwavering in his commitment to what he believed in.”

The bill that Romney signed into law that October included all but one of his provisions.

Speliotis couldn’t disagree more with Tarr, calling Romney “disingenuous,” and wondering if Romney actually believes in anything, considering the governor’s apparent flip-flop on abortion, coal and even his own health care bill.

“I can’t gauge the man. At some point on core issues, you have to have some foundation, but I found that Mitt Romney defies that,” Speliotis said. “The idea that he can change his position depending on what race he’s running is the antithesis of everything governing is about.”

Effectiveness

The Romney administration’s effectiveness dealing with local issues is also both praised and criticized.

Keenan, one of the few local Democrats who has kind things to say about the former governor, pointed out that Romney included $106 million in his 2005 capital budget to build Salem’s new courthouse after years of delay.

“We had a very good relationship and got the project moving toward completion,” Keenan said.

Hill said that “within a week” of the infamous Mother’s Day Flood in 2006, Romney’s administration had secured funding to rebuild three bridges in Ipswich that were damaged in the flood.

“Gov. Romney stepped to the plate for us,” he said.

Bonfanti, who was the Peabody mayor during Romney’s tenure, had a different experience with Romney after the floods came. The governor vetoed $6 million in flood-prevention funding for Peabody in 2004; then, after the devastating 2006 flood, promised to help but came up short.

“He showed up for the pictures and told me he would provide assistance. He didn’t,” Bonfanti said, speaking of the aftermath of flooding that left downtown Peabody under 5 feet of water. “It makes me wonder what he would do if he was in charge of New Orleans.”

After the 2006 chemical plant explosion that leveled parts of Danvers, Romney “did everything he was supposed to do,” said Speliotis, one of Romney’s harshest critics. “But it wasn’t anything spectacular.”

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