In less than two minutes, the City Council voted unanimously Monday night to elect Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan as the President of the Council for 2013.
Ryan, who has said he plans to run for councilor at large in the fall, was the choice of both factions that emerged Thursday night within the council when members deadlocked after almost 300 votes and seven hours in trying to appoint the 11th of the council. The vacancy was caused by the resignation of former Council President Joan Lovely, who was elected to the state Senate.
Ryan was a compromise choice, agreed on well before the meeting began at 6 p.m. He was chosen president because he said he is a "more neutral" councilor.
Other councilors said Ryan was a more acceptable president to those councilors who support the mayor than Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski, who was in line to be the next president by seniority.
Sosnowski was a leader of the gang of five who last Thursday supported former Councilor at Large Steven Pinto to replace the former President of the Council Joan Lovely, who resigned to become a state senator.
Ryan, who was council president in 2011, also supported Pinto. That made him acceptable to Sosnowski and the other three pro-Pinto councilors, Councilor at Large Arthur Sargent, Ward 3 Councilor Todd Siegel and Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey.
He was also acceptable to the five councilors who supported former Ward 1 Councilor Lucy Cochado.
"While the events of the past week have many of us focused on vote tallies and marathon meetings, I am more struck by what an active citizenry we have here in Salem who once again has risen to make their voices heard by writing, emailing and calling those of us fortunate enough to be in elective office," Driscoll told the council in her speech.
"It’s a blessing to live in a city where people care and most issues in front of the council are issues that we must – and frankly do – work cooperatively on as they involve both the city’s executive branch and legislative body.
"I have always seen my role as mayor as that of a steward. The goal a simple one: to leave the city better than I found it. I know that each of you share that same objective and I hope together you can bridge whatever differences you may have with me or with one another to keep moving Salem forward," the mayor said.
She told the councilors, "You may be off to a rocky start in this chamber, but let it end now as the best days of 2013 are surely ahead of us. I know we can work together and I’m committed to doing everything in my power to cooperate and get past this impasse."
The council will meet Tuesday night to try again to choose a replacement for Lovely. Some of the councilors said they did not know what to expect. Others said they expected a compromise to emerge to appoint a third candidate, William Legault, a Salem Patch columnist, to the remaining one year on Lovely's term.
Legault, who attended Monday night's meeting, said he has always felt he was well qualified to serve on the council.
Councilor at Large Thomas Furey, who supported Corchado, predicted the meeting on Tuesday will be short, in contrast to the marathon meeting and almost 300 ballots cast last Thursday.
Pinto, who attended the council meeting along with Legault, said he plans to stay in the competition on Tuesday and would offer not to seek reelection to the at large position if the council chose him.
Councilor At Large Kevin Carr said last week that he could not vote for someone who planned to use the appointment to launch a reelection campaign. Other councilors said they agreed with him as they voted for Cochado, who promised not to run for the council in the fall.
If Pinto's pledge not to run in the fall is not enough to sway at least one more vote for him, Pinto said he would withdraw and decide if he will run in the fall for the council, possibly in Ward 1, where he and Councilor Robert McCarthy live.
Ryan will now appoint the committee and committee chairmen.