To the editor: Response to Mayor Wolford's Oct. 28 letter: If I felt that Mayor Wolford was doing a good job, I would not have run against him. Knowing that he circulated petitions to once again run as a Republican in the May 2011 primary, he avoided a showdown with me by ultimately filing as an Independent, ensuring that his name would be on the ballot this November. I wanted to face him in May, he ran for cover. I feel that Salem has been poorly managed and suffers from lack of leadership and foresight in the mayor's office. When Mayor Wolford backed a tax increase at this time last fall he tried to convince you, the taxpayers, that without an additional $2,000,000 the city would have "minimal snow removal," no "medical emergency first responders (fire department)," "pothole repair" and even indicated that city hall would no longer be open five days a week. These are just a few of the poor city services that Mayor Wolford and his tax backers tried to use to try to convince you, the voters, of what could be expected without a $2,000,000 tax increase. Mayor Wolford's tax increase backers described all of these conditions and more in the flyer they used in last year's failed tax increase campaign. Now, consider this instead of tax increases. When First Ward Councilman Dave Nestic suggested in 2008 that the city investigate a health savings account type hospitalization plan, it was ignored until after three tax increase issues, backed by Mayor Wolford, all failed consistently with 70 percent of voters opposed. Had a health savings hospitalization plan started four years ago the city could have saved nearly $360,000. It's no wonder the city's bond rating has been downgraded. Mayor Wolford said this plan couldn't be instituted because of labor contracts. Yet, this year all four unions accepted the new health savings hospitalization plan before their contracts expired. This is the type of cooperation that Mayor Wolford said would never be possible in 2008. My personal hands on experience with unions is that they are more than willing to listen to reasonable requests when presented to them in an orderly and well thought out fashion. I find it interesting that now Wolford's campaign flyer says "without voter approval, no income tax increase can be passed." Try telling the 1,200 Salem residents affected by "emergency" legislation last year that they had a vote on the repeal of the 50-year long tax credit that was imposed on them by Mayor Wolford and a simple majority of council. If Mayor Wolford wanted to protect these city residents, he could have vetoed this legislation, but no, he chose to impose this tax on them and extracted over $125,000 from their paychecks last year. Sensible people, like me, saw this as a travesty and sought a repeal referendum to reinstitute this long standing tax credit. Further, when I suggested recently that part of the $125,000 be set aside for a state of Ohio Performance Audit, the mayor's lack of support is an indication of another attempt to begin promoting another tax increase proposal for next year. By the way, if three tax increase measures were so important in the last two years, why didn't Mayor Wolford and his political cronies get a tax increase proposal on the ballot this year? Don't be fooled Salem voters; if reelected, Mayor Wolford and his tax hungry group will try again next year, once again citing the poor city services that can be expected without an additional $2,000,000. By not supporting an independent audit to institute greater efficiency, accountability and performance, Mayor Wolford has turned his back on 70 percent of the voters who have said do more with what you are given. It's time to elect someone with executive experience that can manage the city like a business. No where in any flyer sent out by my supporters can any reference to the delivery of or the quality of services provided by the many city workers and volunteers be shown to be described as substandard. Quite the contrary, I am continually amazed at the resourcefulness and genuine concern for the residents of Salem by all city workers and volunteers. Mayor Wolford has failed us, and this latest petty attempt to deflect blame away from himself is exactly the kind of politics Salem residents are tired of. I will serve you well as your next mayor. I appreciate your support and your vote.
JOHN C. BERLIN, Salem