Barton And Registrars Provide Needed Leadership
By William Legault
This article is posted as both a news and an opinion piece and therefore appears here in the” A Salem Voice ” section instead of the Government Meetings section.
On very rare occasions there are small but very significant moments that occur in municipal government. These moments often go unnoticed by most. They are however, sure to be remembered for a long time by those who worked hard and long to realize that moment.
Tonight in the City Council Chambers the Salem Board Of Registrars Of Voters did something as an appointed board, that the Salem City Council, a board elected to represent the constituents of Salem did not have the courage or the foresight to do. There were individual councillors, like Ward 4 Councillor Eppley who were willing to address this issue, but as a body the will was just not there.
Led by Chairman Charles Barton, and supported by members Donald Bates and Phillip Saindon the Board unanimously voted to support and sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), crafted to address long standing and ignored issues related to voting rights at Salem polling stations.
Both Bates and Saindon supported the memorandum with some minor reservations mostly related to the duties and responsibilities of the board and over concerns that other groups may come forward on the future with similar requests. Saindon was clear in his thoughts by stating that “we represent all of the voters.”
Chairman Barton was comfortable with the language in the MOU in that it is “broad enough to cover all city employees tasked with election responsibilities.”
Attorney Alex Mitchell-Munevar who represented the Latino Leadership Coalition and assisted the City Solicitor in drafting the MOU stated that was not a referendum on the office of the City Clerk, but was a strong attempt to provide not only “opportunity but also access to the voters of Salem.” He credited the board for being the first Salem city government body to actually take the time to listen to their concerns.
Tonight the Salem Board Of Registrars Of Voters rose above the business as usual approach of local politics and stepped up in a big way to provide a small moment of greatness in city government.
It would have been nice of the City Council to have taken the time to listen last year.
CORRECTION: Salem Digest has since learned that Phillip Saindon did not not sign the Memorandum of Understanding. It should also be noted that the City Clerk, Cheryl LaPointe has also not signed the document.