Ward 1 Councilor Robert McCarthy remembers the first time he submitted his name to be a city councilor. It was to fill a vacancy on the council, much like the one that exists now.
"They had us line up here (in the back of the council chambers) and gave us each two minutes, I think, to say why we should be appointed to the council," he said.
McCarthy, who was not successful that night, expects that the council will follow the same approach Thursday night as it selects one of six candidates who have applied to fill out the remaining year of recently resigned Councilor at Large Joan Lovely's term. Also the council president, Lovely resigned to become a state Senator.
Two candidates have experience on the council. Steven Pinto, a former two-term councilor at large, who was not reelected in 2011, appears to have strong support from at least four councilors.
Lucy Corchado, who served two terms as a ward councilor, has expressed an interest in returning to the council for at least the one year remaining on Lovely's term. She appears to have the backing from Mayor Driscoll, who usually has a slim majority on the council.
Four other residents submitted letters of interest. They are 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.
To the surprise of many on the council, one name was not on the list. Darek Barcikowski, who was the runner-up in 2011 among the at-large candidates, decided not to submit his name for the vacancy. Barcikowski attended the last council meeting of 2012, apparently discussing his candidacy for the vacancy with several council members, who indicated they might support him because Barcikowski was the runner up in the last election.
The selection of Corchado would keep the council from being an all-male body. She probably will have the votes of several councilors who often vote with the mayor, including Councilor at Large Tom Furey.
Pinto appears to have the support of Councilor at Large Arthur Sargent, Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski, Ward 3 Councilor Todd Siegel and Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey.
Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan could also support Pinto, giving him five of the six votes needed to win the appointment.
The mayor and Pinto have clashed in the past.
McCarthy, one of the swing votes, said he wants to wait to hear from all the candidates before reaching a decision.
The council could deadlock with five votes for Pinto and the other five votes going to Cochado and other candidates. That could force more than one ballot, which might open the door for a third candidate, possibly Legault, who is well known in Salem.
The council will also have to elect a new President. And that selection could force the realignment of committees, including the Budget and Finance Committee, which McCarthy heads.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7p.m. at 93 Washington St. and will be aired live on SATV.