, Salem, MA

Local News

November 7, 2013

New councilors for a new Salem

3 first-time candidates, all women, knocked off 3 incumbents

SALEM — Tuesday’s City Council election was a shocker.

Ward 1 Councilor Bob McCarthy, running an emotionally charged campaign against a neighbor and former council colleague, not only survived but romped.

Council President Jerry Ryan, who appeared to be on the rise politically, finished out of the running in the at-large race — pending a possible recount.

But the story of this election is the tale of three women: Beth Gerard, Elaine Milo and Heather Famico.

Gerard, 38, the recording clerk for the Planning Board, knocked off Paul Prevey, who has held the Ward 6 seat since 2006.

Milo, 57, an administrator at Salem State University, not only won an at-large seat but topped the ticket in her first run for office.

And Famico, a 27-year-old teacher, captured 56 percent of the vote to roll over veteran Ward 2 Councilor Mike Sosnowski, often rumored as a mayoral hopeful.

They ran from different corners of the city but with similar messages: change, positive change, common sense and collaboration.

Although rumored to have been recruited by Mayor Kim Driscoll, all deny it.

“It came from the gut,” Milo said of her motivation for running.

“I told Kim right before I was going to pull papers,” Famico said. “She had no idea.”

These were campaigns born of frustration, maybe even exasperation, at what they perceived to be dysfunction and disagreement on the current council.

Milo recalled sitting in front of her TV set last winter watching a bitterly deadlocked City Council take more than 300 ballots to fill a vacancy. It was a circus.

“I was talking to the TV,” she said.

Judging from the vote, she was not alone.

“A lot of people were saying it was time for a change,” Gerard said. “We have to come up with solutions together. We can’t fight each other. Whenever you fight with anybody in your life, you’re angry and neither of you can see each other’s side. You’re just focused on your anger.”

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