Megan Riccardi To Be Sworn In Tomorrow Night
Full Council Inauguration On Tap
By William Legault
So it’s over. Nine days of testimony. A very aggressive and spirited case was presented by Jerry Ryan’s lawyer Mary-Ellen Manning. A true kitchen sink approach where everything that could be thrown into the fray was indeed thrown. The defense team, consisting of three lawyers, one for Ward 6 Councillor-Elect Megan Riccardi, and two representing the city sparred and parried well.
What is the end result? The election stands, Salem will seat a full city council tomorrow, and the lawyers will get paid. Paid quite well is my guess.
The main issue as presented was the alleged disenfranchisement of a single voter. A first time Salem voter who really didn’t seem all that interested in voting. A voter who had to be asked to vote at the last minute. A voter whose doesn’t speak English as his primary language. A voter who did not possess proper identification proving a Salem residence. A voter who testified on the stand that someone “told” him who to vote for (he made clear that he would vote for who he wants). A voter who did not file a complaint. A voter whose affidavit was never submitted to the court. A voter who testified that despite his not being allowed to vote that he was treated fairly and within the law by the City. A voter, who just may never choose to ever vote again.
The lawyers case to support the overturning of a legitimate election over the alleged disenfranchisement, was to make a bold and blatant attempt to disenfranchise other legally registered voters whose votes did count. As a Salem voter I find that offensive to the extreme. But in defense of the lawyers, I admit that there really was no other option. You can’t hang your hat unless you have somewhere to hang it. In this case hanging it around the neck of the City Clerk was the only possibility.
Reputations were sullied across the board. Those that see Jerry Ryan as the bad guy in this saga will always see him that way. I wonder if he will ever again be viable in a Salem election. This who support him will of course continue to do so and perhaps in two years there will be another Ryan attempt at the Ward 6 seat and we will see about that viability. One witness was battered about thoroughly and had his past brought up to compromise his testimony. Another witness presented only confusion on the stand. Long term friendships may be strained because of testimony in this long and drawn out drama. Honest testimony about statements made by Ryan over the telephone to the assistant City Clerk led to insinuations of drunkenness and a job seeking conspiracy on her part.
In a city already suffering from a clear political divide it it now possible that Ward 6, long a politically stable ward despite some other close elections, may have crossed the rubicon into the sort of turmoil that most would like to avoid.
I was very impressed with Judge Lu. He ran a taut ship while still allowing all of the lawyers the opportunity to do what they felt needed to be done. Any consideration for an appeal will have to take that onto serious consideration.
In my opinion, and that is all it is, an opinion, this was a massive waste of time, effort, and money. I am not upset or angry with Jerry Ryan over this. He did what he thought was best. But, whoever advised Jerry Ryan that this was best, did him, Ward 6, the City Clerks Office, the City itself, and the voters and citizens of Salem a huge and unforgivable disservice. They should make it a point to stop dispensing political advice.
Now is the time to move on. This edition of the Salem City Council needs to work hard to regain the trust of many in this City on both sides of the political equation. I wish them well in their endeavors.