The Gallows Hill neighborhood mostly falls into Ward 4, but there are slivers of Gallows Hill / Blubber Hollow that fall into Ward 6 (North Salem), Ward 3 (central Salem) and Ward 2 (McIntire District / Downtown), all abutting the recently recognized Four Corners intersection, putting this blog in position to endorse Councilor candidates in those wards, besides an endorsement already given for Ward 4.
The races for all three wards have a similar oppositional dynamic, between an old-timey candidate trying to hold back the winds of change, holding rheumy-eyed memories of “Olde Towne” Salem, versus a new-timey candidate wanting to keep Salem moving forward and embracing diversity and innovative thinking. That sentence tells all of where the sympathies of this blogger lie, so composing the rest of this post becomes straightforward.
This race pits old-timey challenger Nadine Nastasi-Hanscom against new-timey incumbent Beth Gerard. Yes not all the old-timey candidates are hoary incumbents, nor middle-aged white males. Development is the premier issue in this ward, as it is all over Salem, with the proposed Juniper Point development to replace a mean-ass unsightly (to put it gently) junkyard on Franklin St the specific matter. It’s too early in the presentation to come out for or against Juniper Point, and accordingly Beth hasn’t made up her mind but seems willing to think and listen. Nadine instead is so last century with her endorsement of single family homes for the site. Can you be feckin’ serious? A couple of single family homes on a toxic site along a state highway (Route 114) adjacent to the Salem commuter rail and bus depot. Who knew Levittown thinking, the antithesis of smart growth, was still alive? Yeah a developer is going to build two homes and gladly undergo the multimillion dollar expense for site remediation. When Salem needs hundreds, possibly thousands of new housing units, two McMansion Hells are not going to fulfill the need.
In contrast, Beth Gerard has already done the hard study, measuring walking distances to the Salem Depot from proposed development sites, promoting Zagster bike rentals, exploring expanded intra-city shuttles for seniors, and more, all intended to alleviate the bugaboo of increased traffic congestion accompanying new development that causes non-thinking candidates like Nadine Hanscom to get up in arms. Beth Gerard offers solutions; Nadine Hanscom wants another traffic study. To make matters worse Nadine Hanscom has gone on the warpath against all proposed developments, proposals that she supported in her time on the Planning Board.
That kind of bass-ackwards thinking is not what Salem needs. This one is easy – if you live in the Ward 6 area of Gallows Hill fill in your ballot for Beth Gerard.
This race pits old-timey incumbent Stephen P. Lovely against new-timey challenger Lisa Peterson. That Mr. Lovely was the one who engineered the opposition to to the so-called Salem Sanctuary initiative now on the ballot tells all that one needs to know. The kind of nativism that he represents reflects darkly on Salem. Another one that is easy. If you live in the Ward 3 area of Gallows Hill fill in your ballot for Lisa Peterson.
This race has no incumbent, current councilor Heather Famico having been pushed out by bullies in the ward. But the oppositional dynamic remains as in other ward races: old-timey Mary Usovicz, who has run unsuccessfully for city council before, against first timer new-timey Christine Madore. Christine Madore won the preliminary race handily, gathering nearly 50% of the vote in a four-way race, and should have no problem coming out ahead again, but the viciously anti-development zealots backing Ms. Usovicz cannot be dismissed lightly.
Adding humor to the race is the sheer ineptitude of Ms. Usovicz’s campaigning. A preliminary palm card handed out to potential supporters contained multiple misspellings, including that of her husband’s name. At the Candidate Forum a couple of weeks later the name card in front of her misspelled her surname again. This from a woman who promotes “attention to detail” on her campaign resume. Then came an doggie-embossed invite card to a doggie-themed campaign event, with doggie treats and gifts to be distributed, but with the proviso in fine-print “No Pets Allowed’. This stumble gathered national attention on Reddit.
Then there is the descent of Ms. Usovicz into Fantasy Land with her repeated assertions that the City Council did not listen to citizens in the F.W. Webb project, a false assertion echoed by Nadine Hanscom in the Ward 6 race. This blogger went to several of those hearings, and City Council members listened, and listened, and listened for hour after hour, meeting after meeting, month after month, way past the point of angelic patience. Opponents got their way through shear exhaustion (the decent Webb proposal is on pause and likely will never come to pass), yet still complain about not being listened to.
Between ineptitude and bass-ackward thinking and stands on issues inimical for the progress of Salem, Mary Usovicz should be allowed nowhere near City Council chambers. Another easy endorsement call. If you live in the Ward 2 area of Gallows Hill fill in your ballot for Christine Madore.