The Salem City Council will convene Thursday night to select a replacement for outgoing President Joan Lovely, who is giving up her seat after being elected to replace the retiring Fred Berry in the state Senate.
All indications are the majority of councilors are ready to hand the job to former Councilor-at-large Steve Pinto, who was ousted by voters in the last citywide election. Cafe Polonia owner Derek Barcikowski, who finished ahead of Pinto in that at-large race but still fell short of election, did not put his name forth for consideration after it became clear he didn’t have enough council support.
“Over the last few weeks, I have met and reached out to the councilors. ... I just don’t have the support of six councilors,” Barcikowski told reporter Bethany Bray. “The decision, ultimately, has become very political.”
Barcikowski is correct, and the citizens of Salem may be poorer for it. They deserve a full, open vetting of every candidate instead of a handoff to a former member, as if the council were an exclusive club.
The city charter gives the council great latitude in selecting Lovely’s replacement, dictating that any vacancy should be filled by majority vote of the council. If the remaining 10 councilors (other than Lovely) are all eligible to vote, the winner would need at least six votes. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 93 Washington St.
The winner will fill the remainder of Lovely’s term, which ends in December 2013, and would be able to run for re-election in November.
Several residents besides Pinto have put forth their names to fill the vacancy, including Christopher Sicuranza, Lucy Corchado and William Legault. Each of their candidacies should get a thorough and public discussion before any vote is taken Thursday night. If the council is going to pass them over in favor of Pinto — which is its right — the public should know why.