A Few Thoughts On The Election
By William Legault
It is the day after another contentious election cycle here in Salem. Lots of political noise and thunder resonated across the city over the last six months. Despite that the turnout was low. Noise and thunder alone do not make a storm.
The at-large race with the exception of Conrad Prosniewski at the top of the ticket was too close to call until the last precinct came in. Almost 800 votes separated first place from second place. But less than 300 votes separated second place from sixth place. Arthur Sargent edged out Alice Merkle for the last seat by a scant 58 votes.
This was a quality at-large field. Some of the challengers worked harder than I have seen in quite a awhile. Their diligent efforts caught a couple of incumbents by surprise in the preliminary. Artie Sargent came to life after the preliminary and made a real effort to keep his seat, This was the first time I can remember Artie actually making an effort to raise funds. He succeeded. But incumbent Elaine Milo finished sixth.
When it comes working a campaign trail the school committee candidates deserve credit too. Some of the challengers were very active in getting out there and incumbent Jim Fleming who finished second was only 162 votes ahead of challenger Beth Anne Cornell who finished fourth.
The ward races featured only one real surprise and that was the single vote difference in Ward 6 in favor of Meg Riccardi over Jerry Ryan. Recounts are nothing new to Jerry but the process will certainly be interesting and educational for Meg. It’s a shame that the process requires lawyers to be involved. But that’s the world that we live in.
I thought that both Ward 4 and Ward 7 would be a little closer. Low turnouts are good for incumbents. If you want to win as a challenger you have to get your voters out, and that just didn’t happen. Tim Flynn and Steve Dibble did get their voters out there.
James Willis gave Bob McCarthy a good run in Ward 1. He won the vote in The Point, but not by enough to negate Bobs advantage along Derby Street and into the Willows. Theirs was a respectful contest that managed to avoid some of the foolishness that we saw in both Ward 4 and Ward 7.
Ward 2 was interesting because Stacia Kraft came in late with a sticker campaign to challenge Christine Madore. Sticker or write-in efforts are a tough road. Stacia did the work and got her voice out there enough to garner just under 35% of the vote. That is impressive. Christine will go on to serve the ward for the next two years, and despite all of the chatter I believe that she does a good job. The question here is will there be a rematch in 2021?
Patti Morsillo won with a plurality in Ward 3 as expected. Bob Camire got reacquainted with a lot of Salem old-timers on his campaign trail and also met a lot of the Salem newcomers. He emerged from a crowded preliminary field to stand in the general election. Welcome to the 1% Bob.
This 2019 election was a harbinger of our elections future. Social media was used more than ever before. But canvassing is still a tool to be used as very aggressively shown by some challengers this year. The days of one forum, or no forums are over, as are the days of only one media source for campaign and candidate information. This is a brave new and very informed political world.
2021 and another campaign season beckons in the not so far away distance, The big question will be who runs for mayor. Will it be Kim Driscoll, who seems to have let her campaign fund run very low, or not? If she does who will oppose her? If she doesn’t? Well then, of this you can be sure, we can expect a political storm for the ages.