SALEM — Megan Riccardi will be sworn in as the Ward 6 city councilor at Salem's inaugural ceremonies Thursday night, following a judge's ruling Wednesday that effectively dismissed multiple claims from her opponent of irregularities in the city's election results on Nov. 5.
A key decision Thursday from Judge John Lu in Lawrence Superior Court was when he found that the city didn't deny a Spanish speaking voter his right to a ballot on election day.
The decision from Lu, delivered orally, came after nine days of testimony that spanned how the city handles ballots to the fastest way one can drive from Garden Terrace to the ward's polling place at Bates Elementary School.
The case scrutinized Riccardi's one-vote victory over former councilor Jerry Ryan, who then sought a recount — which did not change the outcome — and then to trial just before Christmas.
"I order judgment on the remaining claims in the favor of the city of Salem, defendant," Lu said late Wednesday morning. "I vacate my order enjoining that the intervener, Ms. Riccardi, not be sworn in. In other words, she may be sworn in now."
Riccardi, speaking with a reporter following the decision, said the ruling isn't necessarily "a time to celebrate, but I'm happy that it's over, and I'm excited to move forward and serve Ward 6."
Her attorney, Dennis Newman, said he and Riccardi are "very pleased with the ruling of the court, and Ms. Riccardi looks forward to being sworn in tomorrow night."
As Lu's decision was made orally, the court immediately began taking steps to establish a paper record for the decision that would allow for an appeal from Ryan and Manning, if they wished to take the matter to a higher court.
Manning declined to say whether an appeal would be filed.
"Certainly, the court gave it nine days of time, so it was important enough of an issue for the court to spend the time it did," she said. "I have an obligation to my client to file an appeal, if the appeal has merit. I'll be talking to my client and we'll make a decision on that."
This story will be updated.