SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 27, 2013

Benton: Looking ahead to 2014

(Continued)

Meanwhile, voters may have an opportunity to weigh in on the commonwealth’s recent turn toward a more pro-tax, anti-business environment. (Which may help explain why, for the first time in years, the state’s unemployment rate now exceeds the national average.)

There are efforts to get referendums on the November 2014 ballot that would raise the minimum wage, as well as dictate the number of nurses hospitals must have on duty and the amount of sick time employers must offer their workers. Having installed decidedly union-friendly politicians in Congress and at Boston City Hall in recent months, voters might want to say enough is enough by rejecting the automatic gas-tax hikes approved by the Legislature this session.

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One of the more interesting legislative races locally should be in Peabody where upstart Republican Leah Cole – the surprise winner in last spring’s special election held to fill the vacancy created by the death of state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis – will be seeking her first full term. Democrats said to be contemplating a challenge to Cole include School Committeewoman Beverley Griffin Dunne and City Councilor Tom Gould.

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Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll will start the new year with a drastically refashioned city council after several veteran anti-administration councilors were shown the door by voters last November. This may have cooled her ardor for seeking statewide office, at least this time around.

On the other hand, there are reports state Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem, may be seeking other opportunities.

Meanwhile look for Driscoll and Keenan to continue pushing for construction of Footprint Power’s proposed gas plant on the city’s waterfront. A court decision on the matter expected this spring or summer could have grave consequences for both Salem and consumers of electricity throughout the region.

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Political columnist Nelson Benton retired as editorial page editor of The Salem News in 2012.

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