To the editor: I was not only surprised but very disappointed when I read the Salem Republican candidate's flyer sent to voters in Salem. Rather than presenting their party platform in detail, they chose to degrade and belittle the great city services the citizens of Salem currently receive from the city employees and the volunteers who serve on the many boards and commissions in Salem.
Even worse than the false and misleading statements in the flyer, is the sad fact that three members of the so-called "Fix Salem" team are current city officials, Councilmen John Berlin and Dave Nestic, along with City Auditor Betty Brothers. They, along with three new council candidates, claim that the current city government offers "poor city services." Although John Berlin tried to explain his way out of endorsing that statement as meaning something else, common sense tells you that he and the other five were talking about the services rendered by the city's fine employees and volunteers. It was a slap in the face to all who provide city services to the citizens of Salem. I doubt if many city employees are buying Mr. Berlin's weak argument that he meant the number of city services offered and not the quality of work that the employees provide. Poor services means poor services, anyway you "spin" it, Mr. Berlin.
Throughout the past four years as your mayor, I have seen first hand the quality service that our fire, police, and street departments provide to Salem around the clock. Our Utilities Department provides us low priced but high quality service 24/7. Our beautiful and well maintained city park system shows the dedication of the park employees and the Parks Commission and deserves our support for their levy on November 8th. The good service you receive at the offices in City Hall and at the Salem Health District office in the Kent State City Center is due to the employees who care and serve Salem well. I can personally speak for the prompt attention the Service-Safety Director, Steve Andres, gives to every request for assistance or information. Salem's government, as we are called in the flyer, has just completed weeks of labor negotiations and has signed four union-city contracts in the same year, a first for Salem in many years. The employees have given concessions in the areas of pension and health care premiums without invoking costly arbitration and fact-finding procedures as in past years, saving the city thousands of dollars. Salem City Council accepted the contracts unanimously, including Mr. Berlin and Mr. Nestic. To belittle the quality services our employees provide to Salem after their willingness to work with city government on contractual issues is totally wrong and unacceptable. An "attitude of arrogance" seems to be part of this "Fix Salem" team. They are also going to fix "Reckless Spending." I believe that is the job of the City Auditor and the Finance Committee of Council. Mrs. Brothers is the City Auditor and Mr. Nestic is a member of the Finance Committee. If the spending has been so "reckless" (as it has not), where has Mr. Nestic and Mrs. Brothers been all these months? Another deceptive statement, they should be ashamed to publish. The so-called "proposed tax increases" were only ballot issues which gave the VOTERS of Salem the right to decide on the quality of services they wanted to have concerning street paving, flooding issues, and providing needed equipment for the services that the citizens expect and deserve. NO tax increase will ever be imposed without the consent of the voter. Giving the voters the right to choose the level of services they want is good government. I believe they have the right to vote for or reject tax issues at the ballot box. The citizens of Salem should not have to put up with political party dogma. I believe that the voters should choose their future, not a political party! In conclusion, I would hope that all voters will get involved in this election and do your homework on which candidate will serve Salem the best; based on their record, experience, stability, and a real desire to serve you, the voter, to the best of their ability. You have different candidates in levels of experience, political philosophy, and parties. The next four years could be very crucial for Salem. I look forward to a bright future for Salem, based on what has happened the last four years and what is currently in the process for a better economic future for Salem and its citizens. So, ask questions, read letters to the editor, and check the qualifications of whom you will choose to lead Salem forward in the next four years.
Salem Mayor Jerry L. Wolford