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Which will Witch City choose? Meet the two candidates running for mayor in Salem's special election today

(AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File)
(AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Gov. Maura Healey is back on Radio Boston today. Listen live at 11 a.m. and send over your questions for the governor by texting BOSTON to 617-766-0382.

But first, let’s talk about politics on an even more local level:

Which man will the Witch City choose? Today is voting day in Salem, as the city holds its special election to replace former longtime mayor-turned-Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll. It’ll be the first time Salem elects a new mayor since Driscoll first won in 2005. Here are the two finalists:

  • Dominick Pangallo served as Driscoll’s chief of staff for the last 10 years. The 41-year-old’s bid won the endorsement of his old boss (not to mention Healey) and is getting financial help from the Environmental League of Massachusetts.
  • Neil Harrington is currently the town manager for Salisbury, but previously served as Salem’s mayor from 1990 to 1998. The pronoun-eluding 66-year-old has the endorsement of the local police and firefighter unions, as well as Salem’s state senator and assistant Senate majority leader, Joan Lovely.
  • Similar priorities: WBUR’s Amy Sokolow reports that both candidates name affordable housing, public schools and offshore wind as their top issues — and they agree on some areas. For example, Pangallo and Harrington both say the city should adopt an inclusionary zoning policy.
  • The biggest difference: All politics is local — especially mayoral politics. As the Salem News reports, perhaps the most divisive issue is the city’s redesign of the highly trafficked North Street to include traffic-calming measures and parking-protected bike lanes (Pangallo supports the plan; Harrington opposes it).
  • Best zingers: “I believe Salem can move forward, not backward,” Pangallo said at a debate last month. Meanwhile, Harrington told Patch in an interview the city needs “an experienced leader … running on his own record, and not someone else’s.”

Trails north of Lynn’s Walden Pond (yes, the other Walden Pond) are closed today due to a brush fire in Lynn Woods. While the blaze is burning between residential neighborhoods, fire officials say it is contained and not threatening any properties.

  • Zoom out: Basically the entire state of Massachusetts (except Cape Cod) is under a red flag warning today, due to the dry conditions, warm temperatures and gusty winds. That means there’s a high risk of brush fires.
  • The National Weather Service is asking people to be very careful about handling potential ignition sources — such as matches and cigarettes — when outdoors.

On the chopping block: Brockton Public Schools says it is eliminating 130 unionized teacher positions, effectively laying off 9% of its certified staff. Officials cite an $18 million budget deficit and a 1,350-student drop in enrollment since the start of the pandemic. “I am greatly disappointed that it has come to this,” Brockton Superintendent Michael Thomas said in a statement.

  • What’s next: Thomas said the district will also lay off additional non-unionized staff “in the coming days.”

Did you recently get a phone alert saying “exposure notifications” have been turned off? That’s because the MassNotify service wrapped up with the end of the COVID public health emergency last week.

  • The voluntary Bluetooth-based system — which told users if they had been near someone who had COVID — had been in place since June 2021. As of December 2021, state officials said about a quarter of Massachusetts residents enabled the service.

Swifties, you can let out a big sigh of relief: MBTA commuter rail service to Foxborough is resuming today after a truck crash into a bridge in Dedham forced officials to cancel trains yesterday.

  • Along with the impact on regular Foxborough commuters, the crash briefly led to some intense angst among those with train tickets to the Taylor Swift concerts this weekend at Gillette.

P.S.— We’re putting the Boston restaurant industry at the center of the table today. Scroll to read how the recent allegations against star Boston chef Barbara Lynch have spurred broader calls for a culture change. And come to CitySpace tonight for an inside look at the industry’s culture, how it’s been tolerated and what’s next. (Tickets are free.)


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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