A One Vote Riccardi Margin On The Line
Déjà vu All Over Again for Ryan And Barton
By William Legault
A couple of years ago Jerry Ryan, who was raised in Ward 6, moved from Ward Four to Ward 6. Little did he, or we know, that his old tradition of close elections and recounts in his former ward, would fit in well with the apparent new tradition of close elections and recounts in his new ward. This will be Ryan’s second recount in a Salem election, and also the second one in Ward Six in the last six years.
The Ward Six race was a good one to watch from the start. Initially there were three candidates who pulled nomination papers. Then for a brief moment there were four, until one decided against running when the fourth name emerged. When the dust settled and signatures were counted it was newcomer and neighborhood activist Megan Riccardi, another newcomer and activist in Tyler Terry, and a veteran of Salem politics Jerry Ryan on the ballot. Riccardi prevailed in the preliminary by four votes with Ryan coming in second.
We all know, or at least I hope we all know, that the general election resulted in a single vote being the difference. Seldom have we ever seen the “every vote counts” statement so clearly demonstrated.
Recounts rarely result in an election being reversed at any level of government. We have heard no legitimate rumors or tales of ballot shenanigans, or of lost ballots that may result in a dramatic change. It is not unusual however, for the vote count to change. But it usually applies, often equally, to both candidates. The fact that a single vote is the difference in this race is unusual. Those who are interested. the few that vote will be watching. Those that don’t vote, the majority unfortunately here in Salem, also seem interested. They will be heard loudly caterwauling one way or the other on social media when the final result is determined.
This Ward Six race was run respectfully by both Riccardi and Ryan. The ugliness and foolishness that have been a staple of the Salem political scene for the last few years were put aside. There were some vague and silly accusations of sign stealing once or twice. But nothing more that that. Each candidate respected the voters and each other. For that I thank them.
Come this Monday, the 25th of November at 10 A. M., the Salem Board of Registrars will convene in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall to recount the ballots. For Registrar Chuck Barton this will bring a sense of Déjà vu. It was Chuck who was the opponent in the last recount involving Ryan, and he was also on the board for the last Ward 6 recount in 2013. Registrar Don Bates is an old hand at the recount process too.
Recounts unfortunately require lawyers. Lawyers cost money. Our municipal election process already sees candidates spending more than is reasonable to get elected. Some city wide candidates spent in excess of $10,000. We now have two candidates that have to spend more. The lawyers will circle the room and watch the process and ask questions as to why a voted was counted, or why one wasn’t.
We will be there on Monday night. It will all be great political theater as Jerry Ryan and the voters of Ward Six come home again, and drag Meg Riccardi and Chuck Barton along with them.