And so, I left the council meeting that night knowing I likely squandered my opportunity (the interim councilor-at-large title belongs to Legault) to add my value to the leadership of Salem. I remember thinking, “Why would I even want to work with this kind of ineptitude?” with equal parts “How could I become so emotionally overcome to disrespect our city?” — arriving at the conclusion that I had a moment of weakness during a clearly tenuous time.
Today, I amend my outlook on that moment. It was not a moment of weakness; instead, it was a moment of strength.
In every major call to action in history, there has been a powder keg instant. For Salem, potentially speaking, this could have been the catalyst that awoke spirits who were dormant in recent years. The creation of an initiative that I’m proud to have spearheaded, Salem First Coalition, was created, encouraging our citizens to connect with our leaders more personally through nonpartisan social media and empowering voters to register, while finding out the true issues at stake. As the Salem School Committee displayed similar frustrations in a public way over the course of this summer, the tone of what happened in January was once again pointing out the tale of two cities. Those that are in positions to add value, and those that want to maintain the status quo.
In everything I do in life, I often assert my quest in finding the “center.” Through mutually beneficial relationships, I have found that we have a community on the precipice of amazing and noteworthy achievements. I have had the good fortune of meeting neighborhood leaders at forum debates, hearing from future school committee members, tracking down where problems are and providing an accountable voice for the people of Salem.
I take the responsibility of democracy seriously, which means holding our leaders accountable, voicing your opinions, reading about what’s at stake and engaging with all citizens, not some, as to how we can best move Salem forward, together. I believe that the offerings from candidates like Milo, Gachignard, Legault, Eppley, Famico, Gerard, Johnson, Hunt and Schultz are beyond worthy — they are hungry to bridge the gap between young and old, they have skin in the game, and they all want your vote. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting any of these candidates, take advantage of the tools and pages on SalemFirst.org, which outlines who these people are, where they have been campaigning and their visions for the future of Salem.