PEABODY — Asked what prompted him to run for Ward 5 city councilor, Joel Saslaw, 50, gives credit to his home city. “Peabody has been good to me. And I believe in giving back. ... I’m very proud of the city I grew up in and I want to help keep it a great place to raise a family.”
Married and the father of two boys, it’s the first time he’s run for anything. Saslaw’s involvement in politics has been local, supporting Mayor Ted Bettencourt, City Councilor Dave Gravel and school board member Dave McGeney. He’s competing with Bob Croce for the seat of the retiring Dave Gamache.
If elected, Saslaw says he will stress the importance of attracting taxpaying businesses to the city, not only along the section of Route 1 that cuts through his district, but elsewhere. “I’d like to see us get the occupancy rate up at Centennial Park,” he says. He would consider changing the zoning to do it. “And I am open to tax incentives if they’re going to lead to a major company investing.” Similarly, he supports the ongoing revitalization of the downtown.
Approving of the city’s traditionally low tax rate, Saslow won’t rule out major expenditures, perhaps for roads or schools. “We’ve got to invest in our infrastructure.” Businesses, he points out, including the Northshore Mall, help keep taxes low as they pay at a higher rate than residents.
Saslow speaks approvingly of Gamache but would have voted differently on the special permit for a 92-foot billboard on Lowell Street. “I would have voted to deny the special permit,” he says. The billboard, erected in the wrong place, faces a court decision.
Asked about the possibility of a marijuana dispensary on Route 1, Saslaw says he would first confer with the mayor before making up his mind over what can or should be done.