SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

August 2, 2013

Benton: Outspoken, unchallenged

Perhaps the most surprising “free ride” of the current municipal election cycle was that received by Salem Ward 5 Councilor Josh Turiel.

The freshman representative from South Salem has quickly earned a reputation for outspokenness — not necessarily a bad thing — seen most recently in the contentious debate over the extended-year program at Saltonstall School.

Turiel, a Saltonstall parent, made no secret of his preference for the status quo and has also made clear his desire to see School Committee members Brendan Walsh and Janet Crane get bounced in November. That pair, along with Jim Fleming and Nate Bryant, voted to bring the Saltonstall calendar back in line with the rest of the district’s.

In remarks some might describe as impassioned and others as intemperate (later reprinted on this page), Turiel declared that “from all the most recently published data, Salem’s schools suck.”

It was probably fortunate for Turiel that the comment, which certainly had many teachers seeing red, came very close to the deadline for taking out nomination papers. As a result, in a year that will see challenges to three veteran ward councilors and lively contests for school board and councilor at large, Turiel will go unchallenged.

Too bad. The city might have been treated to a first in terms of campaign slogans: “Vote for Josh. He don’t suck.”

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A reader responded to a recent tweet regarding what constitutes the “new” Salem as opposed to the “old.”

Well, think about those who frequent Bertini’s as opposed to Gulu-Gulu Café. Or who regard chairs and tables on downtown sidewalks as a safety hazard rather than a cool way to dine outdoors.

Think of those who pine for the glory days of Salem High School football as opposed to those who don’t know there was such a thing.

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