, Salem, MA


November 1, 2013

Benton: Embarrassing acts of obstruction, in Salem and D.C.

Some quick thoughts on Tuesday’s election:

The lack of serious opposition provides further evidence that Salem voters are plenty happy with the direction in which Mayor Kim Driscoll has led the city over the past eight years. Indeed, the city today is the envy of older, urban communities struggling to attract new businesses and maintain a vibrant and affordable environment for those who live there.

Thus, it would seem the height of folly to saddle her with a City Council determined to thwart the administration’s efforts. Yet, that’s exactly what the tired council cabal of Arthur Sargent, Mike Sosnowski, Paul Prevey, Jerry Ryan and Todd Siegel sought to accomplish last January when they voted 301 consecutive times over two nights to restore Steve Pinto to their ranks.

The spectacle was as embarrassing as the one put on by congressional Republicans recently in their attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and, fortunately, no more successful.

Four of the dissidents are seeking re-election Tuesday, and the fifth, Ryan, is seeking to move up from ward councilor to councilor-at-large. Meanwhile, Pinto, who was removed by voters from his post as councilor-at-large in the 2011 election, is running for the Ward 1 seat. His opponent: incumbent and former friend Robert McCarthy, who had the temerity to vote for someone else in January’s special election.

McCarthy should be rewarded, not penalized, for his stand against what was a blatant attempt to stack the council against the mayor. Meanwhile, voters have a host of new, independent-minded candidates who are committed to putting the council and School Committee on a more positive path.

Respectful and intelligent questioning of a mayor’s practices and policies serves everyone well. But as was just seen in Washington, reckless opposition fueled simply by envy or worse is a recipe for disaster.

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