By: The Rainbow Times Editorial Board—
The Rainbow Times proudly releases its Salem endorsements for city council and select school committee candidates in competitive races. Each endorsement was carefully considered based on progressive values and ideals, support of the LGBTQ community, a demonstrated understanding of marginalized community members and embracing not only diversity but also inclusion. We believe there are two levels of competencies needed to be effective in local government. Cultural proficiency is needed to understand and work effectively on behalf of all of Salem’s residents. Secondly, development and infrastructure competency are indispensable to be able to move the city forward utilizing state-of-the-art technology—and enhanced services—to remain competitive as a world-class city.
City Council At Large Race
Salem City Councilors At-Large must have the understanding and cultural competency needed to serve Salem well—a city that is welcoming and thrives in diversity and inclusion under the current mayor, Kim Driscoll. That cultural competency should lead the At-Large councilors to vote on matters that not only deal with the environment, taxes, traffic issues, infrastructure, development and so on, but also make them aware of problems that impact all city residents, especially those belonging to marginalized communities, whose voices are often silenced. At-Large Councilors have a unique opportunity to innately connect with residents from countless backgrounds at a much deeper level than the average ward councilor, since they represent the entire city and all residents are their constituents. The most effective At-Large councilors for Salem residents must be clear and knowledgeable about diverse and unique city residents coming from a multitude of backgrounds. In essence, they should seriously take an inclusive approach to their thought process and voting decisions.
The Rainbow Times has chosen to endorse four At-Large candidates that reflect progressive thought, have demonstrated a deep understanding of what is at stake in this local election and have a proven track record of standing on the right side of human and social justice issues. These endorsees have progressive values that will guide them to cast votes in favor of equality so that Salem can continue to evolve into the cultural hub it has become in recent years. We believe that the best is yet to come for Salem.
As a publication that focuses heavily on civil rights and educating others about the intersectionalities of our vast identities, the litmus test was not easily passed. We are proud to endorse the At-Large candidates that are best suited to advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ community and the subcultures existing within and outside of it. The Rainbow Times endorses:
A hotly contested battle this year revolved around the passage of the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance, which codified city policies and practices into law regarding immigrant rights. Each of the candidates endorsed by The Rainbow Times has made a public stance vigorously in favor of the ordinance. David Eppley, as a current Ward 4 councilor, filed the ordinance to the City Council for consideration on behalf of No Place for Hate (NPFH). Jeff Cohen, Chair of NPFH structured most of it for the initial submission. Eppley and Cohen were both an integral part of the committee that submitted the finalized version of the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance that was ultimately passed by the Salem City Council and signed by the Mayor. Eppley and Cohen have fervently taken a stand to protect disenfranchised groups within the city of Salem and, if elected as At-Large councilors, we look forward to more of their poignant and fierce leadership.
We should support candidates like Eppley and Cohen, and all who continue to support and vote for initiatives that help marginalized communities in Salem, especially Latinx people, where there has traditionally been a gross lack of representation working on behalf of this ethnic group in the Salem council (i.e. Latino voting rights violations).
“Our [No Place for Hate] mission is universal in who we serve—and we believe that talking about all prejudice and discrimination brings us closer together,” said Cohen. “We serve all residents, particularly those who need it most.”
In addition to the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance, both of these candidates are also responsible for effective impact to create optimal change when they assisted in the passage of the non-discrimination ordinance, protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination within city borders. When The Rainbow Times newspaper box explosion occurred in 2016, Eppley and Cohen were among the very first to contact the publication’s owners to be present as a source of strength and solidarity. Eppley and Cohen’s character goes above being committed to the community. They are fueled by compassion and justice, truth and righteousness. Salem would be lucky to have them on as At-Large councilors. We need them in our progressive corner.
Like Cohen and Eppley, newcomer Liz Bradt also stands on the side of supporting the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance. In a recent candidate profile in the Salem Gazette, Bradt noted that she believes the ordinance is a “line in the sand” to the world saying, “This is where Salem stands,” Bradt said. “A declaration by the entire City will create impact on many levels. It will show that we believe in basic human rights, dignity and we support the Salem Police department as it does its work. I have noted throughout my life that when folks take a stand and unify, bullies tend to back down.” We couldn’t agree more.
Current At-Large Councilor Tom Furey gave riveting testimony during the several meetings involving the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance. He believes that there are “more good angels among us,” referring to the support of the ordinance. Furey also championed the effort to add diversity and inclusion to the Salem High School HOF Committee. Under his direction, the bylaws dictate that student athletes be recognized for their achievements regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.
“President Kennedy was a role model,” Furey said. “If you can make a difference, you should make a difference, and I want to continue making that difference on the City Council.”
Another At-Large candidate did not make our cut because after several attempts at clarifying his stance on LGBTQ rights, sexual orientation and gender identity issues, it was not clear where he stood. That lack of clarification and timely response was something that we could not forgo, unfortunately.
An ardent and vocal supporter of the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance, Dr. Annalyssa Gypsy Murphy first made a big splash as a speaker addressing the Salem City Council about its inexcusable delay to pass the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance when it was first being considered. Since then, she has spoken at numerous events dedicated to social justice both inside and outside her college classrooms where she has served as a professor.
Murphy demonstrates a high level aptitude to voice complicated topics and draw comparisons to relatable ones, i.e. race, gender and the other categories that divide us. The Rainbow Times appreciates Murphy’s candor when dealing with human rights issues. It is refreshing to see a woman speak her mind with no holds barred or hesitation to be politically correct. From the beginning, Murphy was vocal. She was progressive. She inherently got it and didn’t need to be convinced that standing up for those less privileged was the right thing to do. We trust she brings the same vigor to the council.
Additionally, Murphy brings a distinctive perspective to the council—she is Native American and Jewish. It is long overdue that there is not only diversity and inclusion in the city, but also on the council.
Most importantly, as a prospective ward councilor; one goal she set for herself is to bring people together that come from vastly different backgrounds. We agree with Murphy and believe that is the only way we can begin to understand and learn from each other.
“My background as a professor of social sciences, specifically political science has prepared me for this task and that my commitment to my community, to all of you, makes me excited about being part of Salem’s vibrant future,” Murphy said to the Salem Gazette.
Current city councilor Bob McCarthy is an excellent choice as well. However, it is our belief that in this political climate, we need representation that is a strong, progressive voice out of the gate. Because of this, it is our pleasure to endorse Dr. Annalyssa Gypsy Murphy as Ward 1 Councilor.
Christine Madore brings a plethora of experience and expertise to the council. Although a newcomer to city government, Madore is the epitome of a professional that Salem needs as it is carried into the future. Serving as an urban planner for five years for 101 cities in the greater Boston region, she has helped communities across the Commonwealth tackle issues such as affordable housing, economic development and transportation. All of these categories, as most councilors agree, are critical to address. Madore is also a member of the Salem Redevelopment Authority.
Madore’s background in urban planning is a critical asset to have on the council, especially in a city that is growing with more people moving to Salem and not enough housing to accommodate for everyone that would like to live in the city. Additionally, Madore is often found supporting progressive causes like the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance and has also served as a volunteer on Salem’s No Place for Hate Community Engagement Sub-committee.
The Rainbow Times is thrilled to endorse Christine Madore for Ward 2.
Lisa Peterson is the progressive choice for Ward 3. She is kind, smart, savvy, compassionate, a good listener and will bring residents from all backgrounds together to make a more unified ward. Peterson takes a stand when others are not heard. She ardently stood behind the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance, where her opponent and incumbent councilor Steve Lovely opposed it. He also took a back door approach to get the already passed Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance on the ballot. Literally, Salem voters will vote on an issue that impacts a disenfranchised group by popular vote. That is the type of behavior Peterson will stand against and speak up when injustices occur. Ward 3 needs an impartial voice that does not succumb to political games at the expense of others. Because of these reasons, The Rainbow Times proudly endorses Lisa Peterson for Ward 3.
Ana Campos will be on the ballot as a write-in candidate. A small business owner, Campos is highly involved in charitable giving ranging from victims of abuse to animal shelters. She is in support of the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance and her skills as a former architect will only enhance her vision for Ward 4, which mostly struggles with issues relating to “traffic problems, road conditions, and development,” Campos told the Salem Gazette. The Rainbow Times proudly endorses Ana Campos for Ward 4.
A three-term incumbent, Josh Turiel is running to clench a seat on the council for a fourth term. Turiel is widely known to be communicative on social media and responsive to his constituents concerns regarding development and building on the city’s infrastructure. Turiel has also supported initiatives such as the non-discrimination ordinance, which fully protects the LGBTQ community. He has voted in favor of the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance and has been a vocal supporter of countless human rights issues during his tenure on the council. Turiel was one of the four council members to speak out during The Rainbow Times’ newspaper box explosion in downtown Salem. He even grabbed his truck to help get the new newspaper box to downtown in its rightful spot before the “Reclaiming Salem” event to unveil the new box.
The Rainbow Times’ pick is Josh Turiel for Ward 5 city councilor.
Beth Gerard is seeking a third term as the Ward 6 city councilor. Gerard first came to the council after ousting then Councilor Paul Prevey from the seat. The Rainbow Times first caught up with Gerard nearly 3 years ago at the city’s flag raising ceremony in celebration and recognition of Hispanic heritage month. As a life-long volunteer, it was no surprise to see her there standing in solidarity with the Latino community.
Gerard has voted in favor of the Sanctuary for Peace Ordinance and also stood behind The Rainbow Times after its newspaper box explosion in 2016. She passionately spoke at the publication’s “Reclaiming Salem” event. She fully supports the LGBTQ community and is a staunch advocate for marginalized groups.
In the first two terms on the council, Gerard has successfully allocated millions of dollars for improvements in Ward 6. She currently chairs the Administration and Finance Committee. Gerard’s background in policy and research affords her a deeper understanding of budgetary considerations, which guides her decisions on the council that ultimately affects taxpayers. When Gerard is needed, she responds to her constituents wholeheartedly.
It is with great confidence that The Rainbow Times endorses Beth Gerard for Ward 6.
Although The Rainbow Times does not typically endorse school committee candidates, this time there is one candidate particularly that has captured our attention.
Ana Nuncio is the president of the Latino Leadership Coalition (LLC) and holds several positions relating to the Latino community in Salem. Nuncio has worked on behalf of disenfranchised groups for several years in multiple settings, including collaborating with the city government. As an ESL educator, Nuncio understands the difficulty and hurdles—culturally and linguistically—that students whose mother tongue is not English experience in the mainstream school system. To have such an accomplished and culturally competent advocate on the school committee board will only enhance the ability of the committee to reach the students that often slip through the cracks. Nuncio will be the progressive voice in either of the two languages she speaks.
The Rainbow Times wholeheartedly throws its support behind Ana Nuncio and is confident in her ability to bridge critical gaps within the Latino student population and mainstream students and parents alike.
The Future of Salem
When we see discriminatory epithets spray painted in our schools, colleges, at the Commons or any other public place, we cheapen Salem and we destroy its heart for justice—a hard learned lesson many wish hadn’t happened in 1692, to which many refer to when speaking of progress. We have the best talent here within Salem and we mustn’t alienate people who want to belong just because they haven’t lived in Salem all of their lives. How can we call Salem home and bring fresh, inclusive and diverse talent to this glorious city if a few stubbornly declare that you’re “not a Salemite” if you haven’t lived all your life in the city? That is not only a naïve approach, but an irresponsible one. This election cycle represents a crucible for the city of Salem. Will Salem continue to thrive by moving forward into the future as a cutting edge and innovative city that utilizes the best talent of all its residents or will it regress into a dismal past? That is what is at stake in this election—our future, quite literally.
[Read The Rainbow Times‘ Salem Mayoral Endorsement].