Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2009 City Elections Quiet: Too Quiet

Kevin Harvey bumper

The Salem News recently reported on this year’s election season.  It’s quiet.  Mayor Driscoll is unopposed.  (Ken Sawicki is running for her seat, plus Ward 6, plus At-large.  Think he’s serious?  Pull the other one.)

I was a Kevin Harvey guy last election.  I respected him as my ward councilor when I was living on the Common, and was very sorry when he moved out of the ward and vacated his seat (bringing 8 years of snobbery and nonexistent leadership under Regina Flynn.)

I’m very disappointed he didn’t get on the horse once again. 

I preferred him over Driscoll 4 years ago because I didn’t like her emphasis on property values during her campaign.  Even then, many people were predicting the recession we’re now experiencing, and I thought the “good times” were unsustainable.  Mayor Driscoll’s gentrification efforts scare me. 

My concerns aren’t all about the mayor:  I have found Mrs. Driscoll to be an energetic presence at every public event she and I have attended.  I respect that.  I have spoken with her off and on with the utmost cordiality, and I expect that to continue.  Mayor Driscoll and I agree on a number of issues, including the senior center (which should have been at St. Josephs) and Salem Depot (which any mayor with a brain would have to support.)

The real WTF, as they say on the Net, is that my own ward councilor, Mike Sosnowski, amongst others, is unopposed.  He has been councilor as long as Regina has.  Towards the end of her term, she brought out a long-simmering backlash, describing Salem Common as “her Common”.

But what has Ward 2 gotten from Mr. Sosnowski in 8 years.  He’s gotten to be a subsidiary and a creature of the neighborhood associations.  He’s complained about a statue.  And a city-sanctioned mural.

I cannot think of anything he’s done for my ward that wasn’t orchestrated by Washington Sq. or Federal St.  My little special-needs friends, Emily and Katie Harris,, daughters of my chairman Jack Harris, need their playground.  Where is it?  Why isn’t Jack involved in the project?

If he had an opponent, he would have to stand for his achievements and disappointments both.  But, he doesn’t.   I have no idea what he’s done until it hits the papers.

Unfortunately, many incumbents like Mike see their seat as a boon, given to them by the “right” neighbors.

(By the way, don’t tell me about term limits.  Politicians may have term limits.  Bureaucrats, lobbyists and lawyers do not, even in Libertarianville.  Take a guess at who has the true power with a politician who needs a whole term to be effective and then is gone.)

I wish I could run for Ward 2 myself—every citizen should be appointed or elected once in their life in their town—but I have another year to go with the Commission on Disabilities, and every reason to think I can continue;  we’re not very politicized, and I love my job there.

As well, I wish I had the personal resources, but I don’t.  I remember my college history professor, John Fox, and how he wanted to run for selectman in Danvers.  His campaign would have required, if I remember him correctly, just about as much as he made teaching at Salem State.

Those out there who criticize the Mayor for her management style, who call her “Queen Driscoll” behind her back, I would ask:  Where were you with alternatives?  None of you could go to Kevin and say, “come on, up on the horse!  It’s a lot better than working for the state!”  Or, put your names in?  There are people with resources I’ll never have who could run for Mayor, or at least Councilor.

I know Mike is no fan of Mayor Driscoll.  What will it be, Mike?  Will you snipe at her for another four years?  Fighting for…what?  So the seniors of my generation can fight over the senior center—again?    Does Michael Coleman (Common) or Meg Touhey (Federal St.) have to feed you talking points?

And to those on Salemweb:  Couldn’t the spirit of Nathaniel Hawthorne explain to you that the administration has much better things to do than to plant people (“Tad”, “Ann”, “Eddie”) on a message board?  (Trust Nathaniel!  He’ll come out like the Great Pumpkin come Halloween, bringing historic cheer and property values to all!  And you thought he only wrote “The Scarlet Letter” to make a living.)

P.S.  Robert Moran has a good essay on his ambivalence towards Mayor Driscoll.

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