SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 9, 2014

Benton: Danvers stays the course

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — With a municipality long considered one of the best-managed in the state, Danvers voters showed they were in no mood for change Tuesday, providing incumbent Selectman Diane Langlais with an overwhelming show of confidence. She had been appointed to the board to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Mike Powers but now will serve a full, three-year term.

A longtime Finance Committee member, Langlais received 1,091 votes to newcomer Scott Herwig’s 269. Veteran School Committee member Eric Crane was another big winner, topping the School Committee race with 833 votes. Meanwhile, former member Jack Billings’ comeback effort fell short by some 200 votes.

The tiny turnout (7.5 percent), on the other hand, does not reflect well on local election officials’ efforts to consolidate voting at a single location (in this case Danvers High School) and will no doubt provide ammunition to those who, despite the cost, favor having neighborhood polling locations.

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It’s easy to understand state Rep. John Keenan’s skepticism regarding expansion of the state’s bottle bill.

Seems that expansion of recycling programs via weekly, curbside pickups is the more effective and efficient way to keep these containers off the street. That’s the way they do it here in Arizona, and I must say I’ve failed to see more cans or bottles in the streets here than I did while living in Massachusetts.

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Not so fast: Residents of Marblehead showed they are not easily influenced by their neighbors in Peabody, Salem and Beverly, all of whom have voted to adopt the Community Preservation Act in recent years.

At Town Meeting this week, an article aimed at assessing a 1 percent surcharge on their property tax for the purpose of building new affordable housing, acquiring open space and/or funding historic preservation projects failed. There’s a state match for such funding, but by a show of hands Tuesday, voters in Marblehead said, “No thanks!”

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Give Danvers state Rep. Ted Speliotis credit for helping to end the commonwealth’s reputation as the last bastion of Puritan repression.

In his leadership role, the Democrat has been instrumental in advancing legislation allowing the online sale of wine to Massachusetts residents and, on a local level, increasing the number of liquor licenses available in Danvers and Peabody.

Current restrictions on alcohol sales serve little purpose than to protect the profits of those who have traditionally dominated this industry and artificially inflate prices for consumers.

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Parking spaces near the Hawthorne Hotel were reportedly at a premium last Sunday as Salem police Chief Paul Tucker kicked off his campaign for state representative.

The event drew an estimated 300 people, and the candidate was introduced by Keenan, the current occupant of the 7th Essex District seat, as well as Mayor Kim Driscoll. Others on hand included Congressman John Tierney, D-Salem, and District Attorney Jon Blodgett.

Sounds like Daniel Morris, the 20-year-old SSU sophomore who was the only other person to file nomination papers for the post, faces an uphill climb.

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Datebook: Gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem is among the scheduled speakers at the next meeting of the Salem Democratic City Committee on Monday, May 19, at 7 p.m. at SSU’s Ellison Campus Center. ... “Bag It,” the documentary film that’s helped inspire bans on plastic bags like the one enacted recently in Marblehead, will be shown on Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. at Beverly Public Library. The showing is sponsored by Beverly Recycles.