By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — Mayor Kim Driscoll says she is “definitely” running for a third term.
Although her name is often tossed as a potential candidate for state-level office, Driscoll says she has projects she wants to see through in Salem.
“I’m definitely running for re-election,” Driscoll said Friday. “It sounds like a cliche, but I really like what I’m doing. ... I don’t have itchy feet.
“We have some amazing work going on in the city, and I want to be part of it.”
Continuing to focus on the city’s public schools is at the top of Driscoll’s list, she said, as well as the redevelopment of the power plant site and waterfront.
Driscoll was elected as Salem’s first female mayor in 2006 and re-elected in 2009 to a term that lasts through 2013. If re-elected in the November 2013 election, Driscoll would begin a third four-year term in January 2014.
She has set up a campaign page on Facebook and hosted a fundraiser reception Nov. 29 at 43 Church restaurant.
Driscoll says she’s aware that pundits often mention her name when speculating which state offices, such as treasurer, could be up for grabs in the coming year.
However, the mother of three school-age children says she’s sticking around. There are pivotal projects under way in Salem — from redevelopment of the Essex Street pedestrian mall and construction at the Peabody Essex Museum to the MBTA’s new train station and parking garage — and having an experienced mayor in the mix is key, Driscoll said.
“I’m still happy every day I walk out my front door to go to the office,” Driscoll said. “As long as that continues, I hope to have the faith of the Salem citizens.”
State Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem, was among those who said they were pleased, but not surprised, that Driscoll will seek a third term.
“I think she’s grown into the position over the last two terms,” Keenan said. “She’s one of the best mayors in the state, a leader on many, many issues.”
Keenan and Driscoll have worked closely on the power plant redevelopment, MBTA garage and other projects.
“She’s been a great partner. We’ve got a lot to finish up, more to do,” Keenan said. “The mayor and I have had a great working relationship on all fronts the last few years, and I look forward to that continuing.”
City Councilor Kevin Carr also worked with Driscoll during his term on the School Committee.
“I don’t agree with her on everything, but I respect her and certainly enjoy working with her,” Carr said. “There’s a lot of things going on, and I look forward to her staying on and seeing them through. She’s provided some good leadership.”
Prior to being elected mayor, Driscoll was Chelsea’s deputy city manager and served two terms on the Salem City Council.
She previously worked as corporation counsel to the city of Chelsea, community development director for the city of Beverly and assistant planner for the city of Salem. She has a background in planning and land use and has also worked as a real estate and commercial development attorney.
In 2009, Driscoll captured more than 80 percent of the vote over her challenger, Ken Sawicki.
She is president of the Massachusetts Mayors Association this year, a position for which she was nominated by her peers — nearly 50 mayors from across the state.
“The mayor is an extremely effective executive,” said School Committee member Brendan Walsh. “She has her eye out for anything that might enhance the quality of life in the city. She certainly works at the job — she’s everywhere. Generally, I think she does a terrific job.”
Longtime City Councilor Joseph O’Keefe also lauded Driscoll for the progress made under her tenure.
“She brings a lot of perspective to city government that I think we need,” O’Keefe said. “She’s a down-to-earth person, she has an open mind. ... The city will benefit from her wisdom, experience and honesty.”
“She’s an excellent mayor, I support probably 99 percent of her programs,” O’Keefe said.
Driscoll lives on Glenn Avenue with her husband, Nick, and their three children, Delaney, Ailish and Nicholas.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.