By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — Former Councilor-at-large Steven Pinto is running for Ward 1 councilor, challenging an incumbent who did not vote for him when the board selected a successor to Joan Lovely in January.
Pinto was one of six residents who volunteered to be appointed to fill the vacancy created this winter as Lovely resigned to be sworn into the state Senate. Ward 1 Councilor Robert McCarthy voted for Lucy Corchado and, eventually, the compromise candidate, William Legault, to be appointed.
Pinto, who served four years as a councilor-at-large before losing his bid for re-election in 2011, took out papers to run for Ward 1 councilor on Thursday and was campaigning door-to-door yesterday.
“This is about me wanting to serve. It’s not about the past,” Pinto said yesterday, when asked if his candidacy was in reaction to McCarthy’s January vote. “It’s about me wanting to move forward, and serve.”
McCarthy also said the challenge is not personal and is all part of the democratic process.
“(Having a challenger) opens up debate and discussion, brings the issues to the forefront, and that’s all good,” he said. “For me, politics is politics and personal is personal. I’ve never tried to cross the line between the two.”
Pinto said he knew he wanted to run for City Council, and chose the Ward 1 race because job commitments keep him from having the time needed to campaign city wide for councilor-at-large.
“I would really like to serve my own ward,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for me, with my experience.”
McCarthy, a business owner and general contractor, is finishing his third term and sixth year on the City Council. Pinto, a metal fabricator for Ipswich Bay Glass Company, served on the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals before he was elected to the council.
Both Pinto and McCarthy said issues involving Ward 1 — the closure of the power plant, National Grid’s plans to replace high-voltage transmission lines and others — are prompting them to run for office.
“Ward 1 has a lot of issues right now, a lot of things going on, a lot of moving parts,” McCarthy said. “I feel that over the past six years, I’ve developed working relationships that put me in the right place at the right time to make the right decisions for all the constituents in my ward, to make sure all the projects move forward in the right way.”
Councilor-at-large Kevin Carr is the only incumbent — from the mayor to City Council and School Committee — who has decided not to run for re-election this year.
Candidates have until next Friday, July 26, to take out papers to run for office. Papers must be returned to the City Clerk’s office by Tuesday, July 30.
As of yesterday, City Councilors Todd Siegel (Ward 3), Josh Turiel (Ward 5) and Joseph O’Keefe (Ward 7) are running unopposed.
Jerry Ryan, the Ward 4 councilor and council president, has decided to run as an at-large councilor, along with at-large incumbents William Legault, Arthur Sargent and Thomas Furey. Newcomers Elaine Milo, Paulette Puleo and Norene Gachignard have also pulled papers for councilor-at-large.
With Ryan’s move to the at-large race, three people are seeking the Ward 4 seat: Gina Flynn, David Eppley and Sean O’Brien.
In Ward 2, Councilor Michael Sosnowski has one challenger: Heather Famico, niece of former City Councilor (1976-1989) Frances Grace and daughter of Don Famico, the city’s animal control officer.
Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey also has a challenger: Beth Gerard, a policy analyst who lives on Larchmont Road and works part-time at Pamplemousse on Essex Street.
Three School Committee seats will be on the November ballot, and the three incumbents, Janet Crane, Lisa Lavoie and Brendan Walsh, have all taken out papers to run for re-election. They’ll be joined by Patrick Schultz, owner of Howling Wolf Taqueria on Lafayette Street and a former Salem High School teacher; Rachel Hunt, head of the Salem Academy Charter School; and Katherine Casiglia, a Saltonstall School parent.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.