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January 2, 2013

Board votes tomorrow to fill seat

Salem: Councilors believe vacancy left by Lovely up for grabs

Tomorrow night’s vote to fill a vacant City Council seat might be the most anticipated local “election” since the 2005 mayoral race, when upstart Kim Driscoll knocked off an incumbent mayor and a veteran councilor.

It’s an election with one issue: Who will replace Joan Lovely as councilor-at-large as she moves on to the Massachusetts Senate?

Will it be the early favorite, former two-term councilor-at-large Steve Pinto, who was turned out by voters in the 2011 city election? Pinto appears to have strong support from at least four councilors, and needs only two more votes to secure a majority of the 10-member body.

How about Lucy Corchado, a former two-term ward councilor who chose not to run for re-election and has expressed an interest in returning? She appears to have strong backing from Mayor Driscoll and would keep at least one woman on the elected body.

Or is the unlikely possible — a deadlocked council turns to a compromise candidate?

Letters of interest also were submitted by William Legault, a freelance writer and personal trainer who is well-known around town; Chris Sicuranza, director of communications for the New England Police Benevolent Association; Robert Wright, a college teacher with a lengthy background in state government; and Ken Sawicki, who has run unsuccessfully for multiple offices.

On Monday, several councilors said they think the seat is up for grabs. Two men seen as swing votes were noncommittal.

“I’m still weighing it,” said Ward 1 Councilor Bob McCarthy. “I think I owe it to everybody who has submitted their name for consideration to keep an open mind.”

“It’s going to be close,” said Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan. “I like Pinto and I like Lucy because of the fact both are former city councilors.”

Ryan said he favors someone with experience, since the person will be filling out the final year of Lovely’s term.

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