Comments taken from Salem4Real Facebook page

Kim Driscoll & Charlie Baker signaled that they are just regular folks by drinking beer on Friday at The Notch Brewery. There, these mannered politicians made the case for a new bill that would eliminate the super majority vote necessary to change zoning laws, making it easier to push development in local communities. Their headline tells the story of just one vote that kept Salem from passing a zoning ordinance for developing older municipal and religious buildings throughout the city.

Yet in the case of Salem, this one vote really represents the voice of a community saying that this ordinance was flawed. This one vote challenged the consequences that fast paced development would have on our community.

This one vote represents hours of meetings and months of citizens’ teamwork trying to improve and pass a better zoning overlay; changes which were rejected by the mayoral-appointed Planning Board. So, thank heaven for that one vote by four of our steadfast elected officials. This one vote represents the Salem mayor’s inability to address valid concerns about city wide development to the city council, so now she and the governor want to change future outcomes with this new bill.

Baker and Driscoll are putting on a good show for affordable housing, but you should know that the failed Salem overlay actually had no improved affordable housing percentages. More significantly, this one vote in Salem represents a basic tenet of our democracy—that an engaged electorate can make a democratic decision together. Interesting though it was not the outcome the mayor wanted.