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Election Eve Thoughts – We Are Better Than This

Despite Differences We Must Be One Salem

By William Legault


Tomorrow we go to the polls.

This has been an fascinating, contentious, and frequently ugly political year. 20 candidates all stood on the ballot during the September preliminary election. Initially we had five announced mayoral hopefuls. Two of them never actually followed through by turning in nomination papers. One tried, but started too late and was, in his own words, “caught off guard by this sanctuary city thing.” Another one initially pulled nomination papers to run in a ward councillor race, but then had a change of heart. So here we are the day before the election and it seems that for the first time since 2005 Salem has an actual contest for the corner office.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, it is not my place to try to sway your vote. I never did that as an elected official, and it irritates me when elected officials take sides in other races. Endorsements from media sources also bother me. Who are they and why do they feel it necessary attempt to influence your vote? I was endorsed twice by the Salem News in 2013 and 2015. It meant nothing to me and surely did not influence either election. I was always more impressed when their articles would misquote, or present a quote so far out of context that it changed the meaning. Endorsements are nothing more than a political reach-around that serve no true purpose.

This year has has revealed the ugly and malicious side of many Salemites. This foolishness has not been limited to one side or the other regarding any particular candidate, or has it been limited to one side of the sanctuary city matter. Physical threats made in on-line forums by an anonymous coward hiding behind a screen name was the nadir. The use of words like, snowflake, bigot, racist, fascist and nazi has been over the top and those who have used them should be ashamed. Photos of the KKK and references to lynchings are nothing more than hysterical rantings that have no place here in Salem. Sharing photos of Kim Driscoll in an unguarded moment during an LGBTQ event in order to make her look bad, or because… because what? There is no valid “because”.  I don’t care who fired the first stupid shot in this war of political stupidity. It should stop, we are not in the 5th grade.

Paul Prevey is a good human. You may disagree with him on some things, but that is no reason to condemn him. Did he vote for President Trump? I don’t know and I don’t care. His vote is his business. If some of his supporters are too strong in their opinions for you, if your argument fails to sway them, walk away. The gutter is low for a reason.

Kim Driscoll is a good human and has been a good Mayor. If you feel it is time for her to move on then make the appropriate vote tomorrow. Are some of her supporters too strong in their opinions for you? Great, don’t engage them because that same gutter applies to both sides.

The Sanctuary City issue is what is really driving all of the vitriol. If you think only one side of the issue is responsible you are wrong. It doesn’t matter who started it. What matters is that after tomorrow, no matter the results we we begin to move on from all of it.

Tomorrow I will walk into the Bates School and cast my votes for mayor, for city council, for school committee, and will check one of the boxes for the Sanctuary City question.

The only vote that I will share here today is that I will vote to keep the ordinance as written. If that qualifies me as a snowflake, or earns me some other more derogatory monicker, rest assured that your energies are better spent on self examination.

Let’s vote and then let’s all wake up on Wednesday morning in Salem, One Salem, The City of Peace.

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