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January 8, 2013

Council quickly picks president

Salem: Members take unanimous vote for Ryan, seem to have reached consensus on Lovely's seat

SALEM — It took the City Council just six minutes to elect a new council president last night, a unanimous vote for Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan.

The proceedings were a striking contrast to the council’s last meeting, a seven-hour marathon that ended in a stalemate. Despite voting 300 times, the board could not agree on a candidate to fill a councilor-at-large vacancy created by the resignation of Joan Lovely.

Last night, councilors seemed to have agreed on Ryan before the meeting. There was no discussion before a 10-0 vote was taken six minutes into the meeting.

Ryan is in his sixth year on the board and previously served as council president in 2011.

As he took the rostrum, Ryan called for a “renewed spirit of cooperation.”

“That does not mean we will all agree on every issue,” he said. “But as long as we can agree to respectfully disagree, and do so in the context of finding solutions to the problems with which we are faced, we will be fine.”

Mayor Kim Driscoll also called for collaboration in her State of the City address last night (see related story).

The council will continue its attempt to select an 11th member tonight at 6 at City Hall, 93 Washington St.

Last night, several councilors said it’s looking like a compromise will be reached, but declined to name who the appointee might be.

There were “a lot of phone calls” made between councilors over the weekend, Ryan said, both about the council presidency and at-large vacancy.

“Quite frankly, I think it’s going to be a pretty quick meeting,” said Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski. “Everybody has to say ‘what’s best for the city’ and put personal feelings aside. We need to step up to the plate and do what the people put us here to do.”

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