, Salem, MA

Local News

November 2, 2013

Salem council hopefuls weigh in on city issues

SALEM — When asked how the City Council could work better, nearly all of Salem’s councilor-at-large candidates used the word “divisive” in their answers.

As Election Day draws near, The Salem News asked the at-large candidates to weigh in on three issues: the city’s biggest challenge, the performance of the mayor, and how the City Council could work better.

Curing the board’s divisiveness, in one way or another, played into most answers to the third question.

Mayor Kim Driscoll’s performance earned mostly A’s and B’s. However, two candidates, Bill Legault and Arthur Sargent, declined to give the mayor a letter grade.

Seven people are running for four at-large positions on the City Council.

Incumbent at-large councilors Tom Furey and Arthur Sargent are running for re-election, along with Bill Legault, who was appointed by the City Council in January to fill an at-large vacancy. Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan is hoping to move up to an at-large position.

Norene Gachignard is a former School Committee member hoping to join the City Council, and Elaine Milo is a newcomer to city politics. The name of Ken Sawicki, a perennial candidate who ran for every possible position this fall, will also appear on the ballot.

The election will be Tuesday; polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. In addition to City Council, Salem residents will be voting for mayor and School Committee.

The four at-large councilors represent the entire city, as opposed to a specific ward.

Find profiles of Salem School Committee and City Council candidates at


What’s the city’s greatest challenge?

Reducing the property tax and focusing on the balance of residential versus commercial taxpayers, said Furey, as well as encouraging small businesses, such as biotech, to come to town. “It’s the hardest thing to do ... building a better tax base for our residents and commercial business,” Furey said.

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