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January 5, 2013

7 hours, 300 votes, no decision

Salem council stalemate: What's next?

SALEM — City councilors seem unsure of what should happen to keep Thursday’s meeting — a tedious, seven-hour spectacle which ended in deadlock — from happening again when the proceedings resume Tuesday night.

However, several said yesterday they’re sure of one thing: I won’t vote for the other guy.

Despite voting 300 times, the City Council could not come to an agreement to fill a councilor-at-large vacancy Thursday night. The meeting stretched to 2:25 a.m. as the board took the same tie vote over and over: five councilors backing candidate Steve Pinto, and five backing Lucy Corchado.

The council will resume the meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, at City Hall, 93 Washington St.

“I would absolutely consider changing my mind to an alternative candidate, but there is no chance whatsoever I would change to (vote for) Pinto,” said Councilor Josh Turiel yesterday afternoon. “That would be a disservice to the 300 votes I took last night.”

On the other side of the table, Councilor Todd Siegel said he’s sticking with Pinto. Siegel chose Pinto, he said, because the former councilor-at-large knows the ropes and will be able to hit the ground running.

“I think everyone has their heels dug in. I don’t know what’s next,” Siegel said. “It’s unfortunate because last night was a disgrace ... It’s unfortunate the council’s so divided.”

When reached yesterday, Councilor Joseph O’Keefe said he’s sticking with Corchado, while Kevin Carr said he’s willing to change to a compromise candidate.

A compromise, Carr said, does not mean voting for the other side, but having both sides change together to reach a solution.

Yesterday, Pinto said he’s “staying the course.”

Thursday’s stalemate has been “a long time coming,” he said. The marathon meeting only made Pinto feel more strongly about joining the council, he said.

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