SALEM — The winds of political change blew across the City Council yesterday as three of the seven incumbents facing challengers went down to defeat in the city election.
School Committee member Kevin Carr scored the upset of the night, grabbing the fourth and final spot in a wildly competitive councilor-at-large race. Fewer than 300 votes separated second and sixth place.
In the process, Carr knocked off two-term Councilor-at-large Steve Pinto, who faced criticism during the campaign for blocking Mayor Kim Driscoll from speaking at a City Council meeting and for opposing the mayor on a critical vote.
In fact, Pinto came in sixth, one spot behind another newcomer, Darek Barcikowski, the owner of a downtown restaurant who has lived in the city less than two years.
There was some normalcy in the councilor-at-large race, however, as veteran Joan Lovely finished first by a wide margin, the fourth time she has topped the ticket.
Former Salem YMCA Director Debbie Amaral made an impressive showing in the School Committee contest, coming in first in her first try at elective office.
Incumbent Nate Bryant was a close second, followed by Jim Fleming, who won his third term on the school board.
There was also encouraging news on the voter front, as 21 percent of registered voters turned out on an unseasonably warm day, a far better showing than the paltry 8 percent turnout in the September preliminary election.
But the big story of the night was change at the City Council.
In Ward 3, newcomer Todd Siegel beat four-term incumbent Jean Pelletier by more than 150 votes.
"I did the work; I knocked on doors," said Siegel, 44, an attorney. "I think (voters) were ready for a change."
Pelletier felt he was hurt by his support, albeit tentative, for a deal to allow more truck traffic at the city's transfer station on Swampscott Road.