Seven candidates are vying for four available seats.
Who Are the Candidates?
Tom Furey - Furey is a former middle school teacher and lifelong Salem resident who has served in elected office for 30 years, including 12 years as a member of School Committee and 18 years as a councillor-at-large.
Noreen Gachignard - Gachignard has been working as a professor at North Shore Community College since 2000, is a staff nurse at the North Shore Medical Center and is the local president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. She served on the School Committee from 2000 to 2007 and from 2005 to present she has served as member of the North Shore Head Start Advisory Board.
Bill Legault - Legault is a lifelong Salem resident who joined the US Air Force after high school and served in the US Army until 1991. Upon completion of his military service, he lived in the Merrimack Valley area until 1998 when he moved back to Salem. He is currently employed as a freelance technical writer and a personal trainer.
Elaine Milo - Milo is a longtime Salem resident who has worked as the Associate Director of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration at Salem State University for the last 12 years. Elaine served on the city's Cemetery Commission for 16 years.
Jerry Ryan - Ryan is a lifelong Salem resident who currently serves as president of the Salem City Council. He has represented Ward 4 as a city councilor since 2008. He is employed as an insurance agent at Eastern Insurance Group.
Arthur Sargent - Sargent has worked at the Salem Harbor Power Station power plant for 32 years as a computer control technician. He has served as a city councilor since 2000 and is the chairman of the Committee on Government Services and a member of the Committee on Ordinances, Licenses and Legal Affairs.
Ken Sawicki - Sawicki is a self-employed longtime Salem resident who refers to himself as Salem's "perennial candidate." He has run for school committee, Ward 6 councilor, councilor-at-large and mayor over the years. He ran for four offices this year alone.
Here's a look at some of the questions posed during Tuesday night's forum:
What Causes Will You Champion?
- Furey: "My passion would be championing education because that's the future of Salem...as a teacher and parent that's what I'm championing. To make sure Salem has a first-class education that the children deserve."
- Gachignard: "If I had to pick a cause that is close to my heart, I'd say opening some kind of an arts center in Salem."
- Legault: "To me the single most pressing issue in Salem right now is growth. We are a growing city and I think we're doing a decent job of controlling it but I think we could do better."
- Milo: "We need to turn the schools around so we will be more attractive to young families looking to move to Salem. That is one of the ways we will be able to keep the taxes stable going forward."
- Ryan: "I want to see the Salem public school system turned around and I want to see the city continue moving in the right direction as far as development and I want to represent the people and do what we think is right."
- Sargent: "Generally I really work to protect the zoning in our city. Your property has value based on its location and based on the zoning around it."
- Sawicki: "We need to improve the Salem school system and reassess the methods of teaching."
Where Do You Stand on the Winter Island Wind Project?
- Furey: "I don't think it is going to be done at Winter Island. I was for it, I'm still for it, but I think Footprint Power will probably end up having several windmills on that property."
- Gachignard: The best location for a windmill is probably at Footprint Power but it still needs to be studied.
- Legault: "I'll never support a windmill on the ground in Salem."
- Milo: "Keep Winter Island recreational...Winter Island is not the site for the wind turbine."
- Ryan: "Right idea, wrong location...it would end up damaging the whole image of the park."
- Sargent: "At first it sounded like a good idea but I cannot support (a wind turbine) on Winter Island."
- Sawicki: "Winter Island would be inappropriate location for (a wind turbine)."
What's Your Stance Regarding the Proposed National Grid Cable Project in Salem?
- Furey: "This is a plan of National Grid, by National Grid and for National Grid and it is the Big Dig of Salem...We as a city must stand up to say 'no' to National Grid."
- Gachignard: "I think it's been a nightmare to work with National Grid and unfortunately they're the only game in town." She said city councillors have to keep the company's "feet to the fire" to make sure they don't plan projects based on what's cheapest but what's best for the city.
- Legault: Legault said he felt the city had "changed the game" by standing up to plans proposed by National Grid. "The cable has to come in. Hopefully we can do it the best way possible."
- Milo: Milo said she would like to see the city hire an engineering firm to check to make sure the route suggested by National Grid is the best option.
- Ryan: "We need the power, they need to update the lines and we need to remove the lines but there has to be a better way." Ryan said he supports Sargent's compromise.
- Sargent: Sargent said he is against the project as proposed and supports having the wires run with overhead lines as opposed to underground.
- Sawicki: Sawicki suggested that the city consider using nanotechnology and molecular electronics for the project.
Did you attend Tuesday night's candidates forum? What did you think?
Let us know in the comments section below.