, Salem, MA

March 8, 2013

Benton: Busy election season on the way in Danvers

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — Danvers selectmen took the right course of action, opting to keep the town election separate from both the party primaries in the special U.S. Senate election (April 30) and the final statewide vote on June 25 that will choose a successor to John Kerry, now U.S. secretary of state.

There will be plenty of business for Danvers voters on the first Tuesday in May (the 7th this year), which by tradition is set aside to elect Town Meeting members, as well as those who will serve on the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and other municipal bodies. And because the elections would require separate ballots, Town Manager Wayne Marquis told selectmen, there was not a lot of money to be saved combining them.

On the other hand, voters in Danvers and other area towns that hold their elections in the spring will have to be especially attentive to the calendar lest they miss the opportunity to help decide who will represent them at town hall and on Capitol Hill.


Veteran Danvers Selectman Gardner Trask took the heat recently when the board was called to account by this newspaper for circumventing the Open Meeting Law.

The issue was a developer’s proposal to open a slots parlor at the Liberty Tree Mall.

“In order to prepare for the public meeting, the developer wanted to know the concerns of the selectmen, and what we felt would be the concerns of the citizens,” Trask wrote the editors. So, he stated, “no more than any two members met with the developer at one time to EXPLICITLY conform to the law.”

It may sound like conformance to him, but it seems more like circumvention to me. Certainly, there are citizens who would like to know the selectmen’s concerns and would have appreciated the “high-level preview” of the mini-casino to which the board was privy.


Here’s hoping both candidates in Tuesday’s special GOP state representative primary — winner Leah Cole and opponent Greg Bunn — stay involved in local politics.

The fewer than 1,000 voters who turned out to vote for either highlights to steep hurdles faced by Republicans in a traditionally Democratic city like Peabody. But in order for the party to become a real factor statewide, candidates must commit to staying involved for the long term.

An occasional Republican win in high-profile contests like those for governor or U.S. senator will not reverse Massachusetts’ image as a one-party state. The GOP needs a strong farm organization from which it can draw when there’s an opportunity to elect one of their own to the Legislature, Congress or statewide office.


Could be the reason some Salem city councilors are opposed to meeting at the Salem Senior Center on Broad Street is that they don’t want more people realizing just how inadequate it is.

Of course, a vote against the administration’s proposal to build a new center at the corner of Boston and Bridge streets will mean more years of delay. More Witch City seniors may well live to see the Red Sox win another World Series than get to enjoy the long-promised new digs.


Congressman John Tierney joined fellow Democrats this week in walking out of a House committee meeting at which Republicans advanced a bill consolidating federal job training programs.

“What should be a process designed to produce important reforms for our nation’s working families is now designed and timed to facilitate the Republican leadership’s public relations efforts to rebrand their party.” Tierney. Given their disastrous showing last November, Republicans are certainly in need of a rebranding campaign.


Nelson Benton spent 40 years covering politics on the North Shore before retiring from The Salem News. Contact him at