SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 18, 2013

Moutsoulas, Serino survive primary

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — In a contest that drew only 13 percent of registered voters, former City Councilor Jim “Demo” Moutsoulas and second-time candidate Thomas Serino were the two top vote-getters for the seat of Ward 3 councilor.

Moutsoulas scored 315 votes, and Serino won 243, while the third candidate, former 26-year City Councilor Bill Toomey, finished out of the money with 148. The two top finishers will face off in the November final.

“We put the work into it,” Moutsoulas said last night. “We dropped every home — I’m not going to say we knocked on every door — but we got our literature in every home.”

Moreover, he added, the fliers stressed his 12 years on the council in the 1980s and 1990s and his work on projects like saving the Tremont Street fire station and drawing business to the ward.

“I was selling my experience,” he said.

For the final, Moutsoulas expects to deal with Ward 3 and Peabody issues like the nuisance of buses parked on Pulaski Street and bringing development to the downtown.

Serino, a salesman for the Lynn Item, visited City Hall to get the results, where he told reporters his previous run for the office, against the now-retiring Rico Mello two years ago, had helped get his name out to voters. And this time, “I just went out and introduced myself and told people what I want to do. ... We did a lot of knocking on doors. We were a little more aggressive.”

He promised to offer voters “a new approach” to the ward and its problems, which he feels are things like traffic, water main breaks on Gardner Park, under-used “brown fields” on Walnut Street, finishing the Riverwalk and the disruptions caused by buses on Pulaski Street. For November, Serino added, “We do have a lot of work to do.”

Peabody poll-watcher Mike Schulze, who finished third in a race for the same seat many years ago, expressed surprise at Toomey’s third-place showing.

“I saw Moutsoulas had a lot of signs. I know Toomey was doing a lot of work. But I didn’t see a lot of work from Serino. I’m surprised. ... It was a primary where everybody drags out their closest friends. Obviously, (Serino) dragged out enough to beat a person who held office before.”

Despite Moutsoulas’ first-place finish, Schulze thinks Serino can be very competitive in the November final.

“It’s doable,” he said, noting that the final election, including citywide races for councilor, brings out a larger and very different electorate.

Both Moutsoulas and Serino said they are open to the idea of a forum or debate.

The votes were counted quickly by City Clerk Tim Spanos and his staff. Serino and voter Jim Snow were the only visitors to the office.

“Every election I’m down here to get the results,” said Snow. Not part of any campaign, he said he voted for Moutsoulas. “I’ve known him over 30 years.”

Toomey served briefly as Ward 3 councilor before rising to win the at-large seat he held for 11 terms. He also ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2002.

“Bill Toomey is one of the most intelligent guys I ever served with,” Moutsoulas said of his rival. “He’s also a very nice guy. And so is his wife, Betty.”

Staff writer Alan Burke can be reached at aburke@salemnews.com.

Ward 3 City Council primary William Toomey 148 Thomas Serino 243 James Moutsoulas 315