SALEM — William Legault, Salem’s newest city councilor, dismisses the idea that he might be the nonpartisan vote on a polarized board.
“It depends on the individual issues, as they come up,” he said. “I feel I’m joining a group of 10 reasonable and rational men, and I feel we’re going to operate that way.
“I will approach each issue that comes before the council independently. ... There will always be one person that agrees with me, and one person that doesn’t.”
Legault was appointed Tuesday to fill the councilor-at-large vacancy created by the resignation of Joan Lovely. He emerged as a “compromise” candidate, after the council deadlocked in a 5-5 tie between two candidates, former Councilors Lucy Corchado and Steve Pinto.
Legault was appointed with the council’s 302nd vote, after the board’s initial meeting to fill the vacancy — a seven-hour session that stretched to 2:25 a.m. — ended in a stalemate.
He brings a diverse background, having worked two or even three jobs at a time around the city.
“Through circumstances, I have developed an extraordinary reach across all demographics in Salem,” Legault said. “I think that’s something unique I bring to the table (at City Council). I don’t think there’s a group in Salem that I can go to, and they don’t know who I am.”
A Salem native, Legault is a U.S. Air Force and Army veteran. He served in the military through 1991 and lived in the Merrimack Valley in the 1990s, working as a machinist and supervisor of machine shops.
He returned to Salem in 1998 to work at Maynard Plastics. He worked at Roosevelt’s restaurant and was a bartender at the Lobster Shanty for 10 years.
He’s also worked as fitness director at the Salem YMCA and as a parking-meter reader for the city of Salem.
Legault now makes his living as a freelance writer, fitness coach and personal trainer.
He writes articles for the Patch.com news site; yesterday, Legault acknowledged that the job could be a conflict of interest while he sits on the council.
“There’s decisions and conversations to be had,” he said. “Whatever the limitations are, I will abide by them.”
Although he’s always had political interests, Legault has never held elected office. He is appointed to the City Council through December.
Yesterday, Legault said it’s “way too early” to think about whether he might run for office once his term is up.
“I have to get my feet wet,” he said. “Any decisions for down the road will be made later.”
Either way, Legault said he will do his best to represent the whole city during his year on the council.
“I think I do know this city. I know the older factions in Salem, I know the newer factions in Salem and I’m familiar with the in-between. I can help to reach across all of these demographics to make the right decisions,” he said. “... I just want the people to understand that I am diligent and sincere. I want to do good things for the city of Salem. I have no allegiance to any single political entity in the city. I only have allegiance to Salem.”
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.