After 302 ballots, nearly nine hours of deliberation, two candidate withdrawals and two strenuous meetings, the Salem City Council has selected William Legault to fill its vacant city council seat.
Legault is replacing former councilor Joan B. Lovely, who was sworn into her new post in the state Senate last week. The city council held a special continuation meeting Tuesday night after reaching a 5-5 deadlock last Thursday, with the nominations of Steve Pinto and Lucy Corchado, who both formerly served on the council.
“I feel that we need to get to work and get this city running,” Legault said. “That’s all. It’s time to go to work.”
The newly elected city councilor added that he respects both Corchado and Pinto, his now former opponents.
“I’m sure I’ll be contacting both of them for advice and support as we go along,” Legault said.
After the 301st ballot, Pinto withdrew his name from consideration. Corchado’s withdrawal followed shortly after.
“I feel relieved that this is over,” Corchado said. “I think 11 white men on the council doesn’t reflect the demographics that exist in Salem. It’s an ever-growing, diverse community and I think the legislative body should reflect that. I was the only woman and Latina candidate, so I was hoping that would’ve been an added merit in my candidacy.”
Corchado also said that she will remain very involved in various city boards and non-profit organizations that work towards improving the quality of life in under-privileged neighborhoods.
Despite the voting dilemma, City Council President Jerry Ryan said that not only is he glad to have Legualt on board, but now its time to take measures to prevent this type of ordeal from repeating itself.
“Probably within the next couple of meetings we’ll try to bring an order in to look at the process and see if there’s some way,” Ryan said. “And have a committee and have the public come in and find different ways that we can set it up so it doesn’t happen again.”