Significantly, the top vote-getter in the council race was a newcomer, Elaine Milo, who works in the grants office at Salem State University. Milo ran on a platform of consensus-building and “thoughtful decision-making.”
That message obviously resonated in the School Committee race, as well, where incumbents Janet Crane and Lisa Lavoie were ousted, and Rachel Hunt, head of school at the Salem Academy Charter School, was the leading vote-getter.
Hunt and former school teacher and administrator Patrick Schultz, who was also elected Tuesday, promised a sustained focus on helping lift the beleaguered school district out of Level 4 status, the last step before a state takeover.
“What we saw today was a transition taking hold,” incumbent (and re-elected) at-large Councilor William Legault said Tuesday night. “New residents, younger residents asserting themselves. ... This is a new city, and we have to find new directions.”
While Legault has a point, in many ways, the “Old Salem” vs. “New Salem” argument making the rounds in recent weeks is a misnomer. The change Salem needs isn’t generational; it’s in the need for a shared vision, a sense of common purpose and a feeling the city’s leaders are working together to meet a phalanx of challenges.
On Tuesday, Salem voters let it be known that’s the type of change they want.