SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 28, 2012

Benton: Changes afoot in the New Year

Democrats, particularly in Massachusetts, had plenty to celebrate in 2012. But with the presidential election still fresh in our memories, more decisions await at the start of the new year for voters statewide, as well as in Salem and Peabody.

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Unfortunately, those in Salem will have to wait until November before they can weigh in on what will be a 10-person vote to replace Joan Lovely on the City Council. The popular former Ward 3 and at-large councilor is on her way to the Statehouse, where she will represent the 2nd Essex Senate district, replacing retiring Senate Majority Leader Fred Berry.

Lovely, despite having very big shoes to fill, is no doubt happy to be departing the council chamber on the second floor of City Hall, where a cabal lead by Ward 2 representative Mike Sosnowski continues to make life difficult for Mayor Kim Driscoll. Sadly, those efforts could be enhanced by the selection of Sosnowski’s pal Steve Pinto for Lovely’s seat.

Pinto was given the boot by voters in 2011 for his obstructionist tactics, but for some unfathomable reason is viewed by his supporters on the council as the second coming of Abraham Lincoln. They made it clear to the first runner-up in the last councilor-at-large race, local businessman Darek Barcikowski, that despite what logic, fairness and precedent might demand, he would not have the votes to secure Lovely’s seat.

There are a number of other well-qualified candidates, most notably former Ward 1 Councilor Lucy Corchado, who have expressed interest in the seat, but the odds at the moment seem to be in Pinto’s favor. His selection would be a slap in the face of Salem voters, who might well choose to exact their revenge in the fall. But that would mean another 12 months of unnecessary discord for an administration that has won plaudits both locally and statewide for its progressive policies.

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