SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 26, 2013

Column: Helping Salem 'become strength'

New Salem vs Old Salem; Pro-Mayor vs Anti-Mayor; Traditionalist vs Progressive; Republican vs Democrat; Us vs Them.

In a city steeped in historical moments, I’m mindful of where Salem has come from, but more importantly, how it will progress after the dust settles when our political season ends on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5.

This year has seen remarkable changes for Salem — from deeper outreach with community groups, more funding toward landmark construction projects, increased growth from Salem State University, major educational adjustments, a progressively developing downtown, and of course, the potential to see new leadership in the form of changes on Salem City Council and School Committee.

Nearly 10 months ago, I was an unwitting participant to one of the sorriest tales in Salem’s history in attempting to fill the now state Sen. Joan Lovely’s vacant councilor-at-large seat. When I submitted my name to fulfill the obligations of the position, I would have never imagined that after 300 votes deadlocked until nearly 3 a.m., begrudging personalities prevented our city from moving on. Instead, true friction was exposed in our leadership when two former councilors, Lucy Corchardo and Steve Pinto, pitted against one another, seemingly in pro-mayor and anti-mayor camps respectively. So went the votes evenly — five to Pinto, five to Corchardo. Over and over and over, the votes went on and on and on. Another brave candidate who threw his name in, William Legault, and I watched in dismay, as we were now active members of the circus our leaders were suddenly creating around us.

After speaking to councilors, leaders and active community members before and during that fateful January night, I was made to believe compromise could be achieved by avoiding partisan outlooks. Nevertheless, in witnessing the events above and stepping up to take on the heavy burdens of the position, I had an outburst during the last recess of the night. The cameras of SATV went mute, but I grew loud, demanding with a roar, “Somebody, do something! I have lost tremendous respect for all of you! You were elected to lead, now showcase that!”

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