300 Votes Not Enough, Salem Council Deadlocks on Lovely Vacancy [VIDEO]

Former Councilors Pinto and Corchado vie for appointment for one-year term as council splits over candidates supported and opposed by Mayor Driscoll.


Freshman Councilor at Large Kevin Carr predicted that he and his colleagues would be known after Thursday night as "the gang that couldn't shoot straight."

The 10-member council met until 2:30 a.m. and voted 300 times trying to appoint a successor to now state Sen. Joan Lovely, who until recently was president of the council. She resigned to move to the Senate, leaving a fractured council seemingly incapable of choosing her replacement.

The council was deadlocked, five to five, between two candidates Steven Pinto and Lucy Corchado throughout the night. At 2:30 a.m., they voted seven to three to recess until Tuesday at 7 p.m. to try again to select the 11th member of the council.

In an unusual move, which disturbed some councilors, the council is scheduled by law to meet on Monday night to elect a new President and appoint committee chairmen. They will make those moves with only 10 members.

Steven Pinto, a former two-term councilor at large, who was not reelected in 2011, had the unswerving support of Councilor at Large Arthur Sargent, Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski, Ward 3 Councilor Todd Siegel, Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan and Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey.

Lucy Corchado, who served two terms as a ward councilor, had the equally unrelenting support of Carr, Councilor at Large Thomas Furey, Ward 1 Councilor Robert McCarthy, Ward 5 Councilor Josh Turiel and Ward 7 Councilor Joseph O'Keefe, who served as president of the council because he had the most seniority.

Corchado had the backing of Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, which caused the  sharp polarization of the council over the selection of the tie-breaking 11th member.

One council member who supported Pinto said the real issue in the election was whether Salem was going to be run by "a monarchy."

With the election of Corchado, the mayor could be assured that she would have a majority on the council loyal to her.

During his tenure on the council, Pinto clashed frequently with the mayor and her supporters. He has said he believes she and her political allies helped defeat him in his bid for reelection in 2011.

Four other residents submitted their names for the position. They were William Legault, a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Salem Patch; Chris Sicuranza, the director of communications for the New England Police Benevolent Association; Robert Wright, a college teacher with a background in state government, and Ken Sawicki, who has run unsuccessfully for several offices.

Each ballot took about one minute for City Clerk Cheryl LaPointe to call the names of each councilor. Ballot after ballot was exactly the same until Carr proposed that the two factions compromise and select Legault.

That lasted for two ballots with Carr and Furey voting for Legault, but when no other councilor joined in the proposed compromise, the sides solidified again with five for Pinto and five for Corchado.

Nearing midnight, Turiel made several efforts to have the council recess until Tuesday night. The mayor seemed to support a recess. After O'Keefe and Turiel met with mayoral aide Jason Silva in the mayor's office, O'Keefe proposed that the council recess until Tuesday when he said, "cooler heads may prevail." But only the Corchado faction supported that proposal.

Turiel, calling the balloting "an embarrassment," said he would walk out at 1 a.m., but he didn't. He stayed and continued to offer motions after each ballot, calling for a recess until Tuesday. Each motion was defeated five to five.  

The special meeting, called to fill the vacancy, began at 7 p.m. Each of six candidates for the appointment were allotted two minutes to tell the councilors why they should be appointed.

Corchado, saying she would not run for election next fall to a full term on the council, said the council's choice of a replacement for Lovely was a referendum on whether the council would embrace the diversity of Salem.

She said the council, which would be all white and all male if Pinto were chosen, "cannot embrace the diversity of Salem" without having a woman member and a Hispanic.

Legault, who briefly appeared to be a possible compromise candidate, said he would bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the council. He said his priority on the council would be to protect the interests of children and families.

Pinto, who said he "would hit the ground running" because of his recent experience on the council, called his tenure on the council "the best four years of my life."

"This appointment is a chance for me to come back and bring something to the council," he said.

Several councilors said they were supporting Corchado because she pledged she would not run for election.

Carr, who made that an issue in the debate, said to appoint someone and give that person the power of incumbency "was an unfair advantage" in the fall elections.

Siegel disagreed, pointing out that three incumbents were defeated in the 2011 elections. Sargent agreed, saying it was important for the appointed person to face the voters in the fall election.

Ryan announced that he would run for a councilor at large position in the fall elections and not run for reelection in Ward 4.  

Danielle January 04, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Chris--You fail to mention why Barcikowski wanted his name removed, because he knew the votes were already cast and wasn't going to put himself through the embarassing farce of trying to round up support. He should be offered the spot.
Jared Robinson January 04, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Also, I think Darek would rather run for a legitimate seat again in the fall than be introduced into incumbency. Good foresight on his behalf to not be involved in this nonsense
Northshore123 January 04, 2013 at 04:24 PM
If the council can't agree, then bring it to the people. I'd rather vote than watch another painful meeting like the one last night. Let the city decide. Just like I've decided to change my vote next election for my ward councilor. Giving a vacant seat to someone who lost his last election is a bad idea.
Danielle January 04, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Northshore I'd be in favor of letting the people decide because the council isn't capable, provided the cost attached to a special election is not outrageous for the city to absorb. However if that's not an option, the people have already voted and that should be considered.
Jes January 04, 2013 at 05:13 PM
I did have to laugh when Pinto was asked if he would run again in the next election if he was selected last night. Of course, he did not commit and said he did not have a chance to speak with his family about it yet. Somehow I do not believe that.
Michael McNeil January 04, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Racist comment.
Michael McNeil January 04, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Another racist comment.
john January 04, 2013 at 06:42 PM
If the deadlock is not going to change then one of the two should withdraw for the sake of the city taxpayers.
Jared Robinson January 04, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Corchado has nothing to lose by backing out. Pinto may end up being voted out again if he forces his way back in
Mike Blatty January 04, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Ridiculous waste of time last night. Idiotic to go through the same motions 300 times. The council owes Ms. LaPointe an apology at the very least. I like Lucy Corchado and I like Steve Pinto as well, but neither of these two is owed a seat for any reason, gender, race, or otherwise. Bill Legault would make a fine compromise candidate and councilor. That would have been the sensible and wise choice under the circumstances. The only good thing to come out of the most ridiculous and embarassing city council meeting ever (which is saying a lot) is the opportunity to dub in some funny stuff over the actual verbal nonsense. Perhaps the clips can then be posted here.
chester suchecki January 04, 2013 at 08:00 PM
ms corchado we know is the mayors choice along with her council puppets. mr pinto is a has been and now salem needs counilors that are now not then and the way we always do it thinking. its time for change salem and this is where it starts. get on the phone get on line go to their houses if you have to but make sure your ward councilors know how you want them to vote not how they want to vote. you can bitch until next november but your voice starts now.
Danielle January 04, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I emailed my Ward Councilor, his response was laughable.
Jared Robinson January 04, 2013 at 08:07 PM
which councilor and what was the response? I'm not even going to bother with Sosnowski. I spoke with him about it, he explained his position and I figured no amount of arguing would change his mind.
Danielle January 04, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Basically tried to sell me on the merits of Pinto and when I said that it was sad that there are no women or minorities on the council, he told me that he doesn't vote based on gender. No he votes based on who else hates the Mayor as much as he obviously does, and who he's friends with. Surely he doesn't vote based on constituent feedback. He actually tried to tell me that he likes Lucy, but that she doesn't go to the council meetings as Mr. Pinto does. Does he think I am dumb enough to believe that the fact of meeting attendance by Mr. Pinto influenced his vote and it had nothing to do with votes promised way ahead of last night's meeting, or political alliances.
Jared Robinson January 04, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Yeah, it's buddy politics. If they really want to help him get a seat, they should try to help him get it via the major vote in the fall... not by forcing him in right now. Obviously this isn't a good PR move for any councilor to be deadlocked like this. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 300 votes and it's all the same (save for a few times when Bill was introduced to the voting)? That means the system is INSANE
Michael McNeil January 04, 2013 at 08:19 PM
I looked again at the last names of the Councilor's. Looks to have different nationalities. Are you a racist?
Jared Robinson January 04, 2013 at 08:24 PM
I wrote this to my councilor: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 300 votes into the early morning? Might be time to try a different approach. I would say it's in Steven's best interest to withdraw. I know I'd be more inclined to vote for him in the fall if he bowed out now before it goes to another night of deadlocked votes. I don't think it's good for him to be the center of this controversy for a year in the councilor seat. I think it would be better to prepare for a proper run in the fall. I think if he did get the seat in all this, it would sour the voters come election time and could hurt him again.
Hans J Weedon January 04, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Hi. I was at the meeting last night, and i realize that the so called "Sunshine-Committee" that I was on, dropped "the ball" we should have proposed an escape clause for this situation. 250 Votes without intervening discussions is improper City Council procedure. It must be changed, the Sunshine-Committee should reconvene and suggest a change to the Council Bylaws to prevent such a show of immaturity. Hans J Weedon.
windpower January 04, 2013 at 09:22 PM
Joan did it ,where have you fems been Place your name on the fall ballot
Jes January 04, 2013 at 09:58 PM
That was the WHOLE first hour last night. "....I'm voting for this one, but I also really like this one, and that one is very good.....and thank you ALL for applying for the position.....". It's a joke and a little pathetic now that we know what was going on.
chester suchecki January 04, 2013 at 10:04 PM
the qween and her ten stooges arent going to change anything to suit the citizens of salem only themselves.lets face it the city council has been corupted for years even decadesand we as citizens only have one choice and that is to vote these people out of office as soon as possible.its bad enough that we can barely get someone to run against some of these seated councilors because of the good ole boy mentality in salem but people bite the bullet and vote these cronies out and change the way salem works and we have to start at the to and get rid of the qween.
john January 04, 2013 at 10:16 PM
As I have stated ,the next highest vote getter should get the seat. People keep saying Pinto was voted out so he should not get consideration. The fact is he received many votes from Salem taxpayers and that is not really the same as having no support. Think of it as if a person becomes disqualified , such as in an olympic event, the rest move up.It's pretty simple if we allow it to be. It would easily be the fairest solution. We can't continue to live by an old city charter that causes gridlock.
chester suchecki January 04, 2013 at 10:29 PM
i can live with that but the mayor and city council cant
Rich Felton January 05, 2013 at 02:00 PM
You running for office Gayle? Great politically correct answer.
Rich Felton January 05, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Every single vote by the council is always predetermined. In fact, every vote taken by our planning board is also.They know how they are going to vote even before the meeting starts. Why do you think we don't have a new SENIOR CENTER(sorry Gateway Center) yet? It's because Mayor Driscoll has to go to council to get extra money, because she didn't know the developer has to pay prevailing wages to it's workers. She knows she won't get the votes from the city council.
Mike Blatty January 06, 2013 at 01:32 AM
I am going to send this guy to the Salem City Council meeting on Tuesday night as I know for a fact that Councilor O'Keefe is possessed. Councilor Furey I am not so sure about. http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=Aod7JZ71TX94FlbGk7trA3GbvZx4?p=you+tube+the+exorcist+muxic&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-701
Edward January 06, 2013 at 01:54 AM
Your last sentence says it all, John. The charter needs to be changed to provide for a direct election by the voters, of any and all vacancies on the council, city-wide for an at-large vacancy and individual ward for an individual ward vacancy. It's simple. As I stated in another article, if the current council will not do this, then the voters need to elect a slate of people who will.
KlassySalem January 06, 2013 at 05:14 AM
He already has a campaign manager.
chester suchecki January 06, 2013 at 07:11 PM
i dont think fury has email you have to beat on a log
Letty C January 07, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Whomever supports qween disgraceful should be passed on by. She has no interest for the community, but only for her own power and ascension to the top. I write in Robert Allen of Beckford Street.


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