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January 8, 2013

Mayor calls on councilors to end stalemate over filling seat

SALEM — Last week’s marathon meltdown by the City Council was one of the themes last night in Mayor Kim Driscoll’s State of the City speech.

At the end of an address that touched on everything from city finances to waterfront development, Driscoll called on the council to end the bitter stalemate that led the 10-member body to vote 300 times over seven hours without choosing an 11th member to replace Joan Lovely, who resigned as councilor-at-large to assume her seat in the state Senate.

“You may be off to a rocky start in this chamber, but let it end now, as the best days of 2013 are surely ahead of us,” Driscoll said to a packed council chamber at City Hall. “I know we can work together, and I’m committed to doing everything in my power to cooperate and get past this, or any impasse.”

The 5-5 deadlock Thursday night between supporters of former Councilor Steve Pinto and those who favored former Councilor Lucy Corchado was seen by some as a battle between anti-Driscoll and pro-Driscoll forces, with the interim council appointment viewed as a crucial swing vote.

Others saw it as a test of those who wanted an independent council and those who wanted to work more cooperatively with the mayor, while still others said it was simply an old-fashioned political fight. Whatever the reality, the 300-ballot deadlock was a dubious record and public embarrassment that had both city councilors and the mayor using the word “compromise” last night.

Driscoll praised councilors for working cooperatively in the past and for sharing her goal of leaving the city better than they found it.

“I know that each of you share that same objective,” Driscoll said, “and I hope together you can bridge whatever differences you may have with me or with one another to keep moving Salem forward.”

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