Northshore Magazine

Northshore October 2015

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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40 | OCTOBER 2015 Kimberley Driscoll was on the Salem City Council when her frustration with the way the city was being managed hit a tipping point. She didn't think that Salem's incredible assets—among them a fascinating, world-famous history, incredible natural beauty, a robust tourism trade, and rich arts culture—were being fully taken advantage of. She adds that political infighting and a multimillion-dollar budget deficit only compounded the problems. "I just saw Salem having an opportu- nity to be better, and I wanted to help shape that," Driscoll says. So she quit her job as deputy city manager and chief legal counsel for the city of Chelsea to campaign full-time. "I ate a lot of spaghetti and walked a lot of streets," she says, and in 2006, she became Salem's first female mayor. "Ten years later it's still the best job I've ever had." In that time, Driscoll has used her expertise as an attorney, city planner, and self-professed "budget geek" to balance Salem's budget. "It's not sexy to have these budget awards," Driscoll says, but on her watch, Salem has gotten them. For the past seven years, the city has received the Certificate of Achieve- ment for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. Driscoll has built an open, honest, transparent, and accountable gov- ernment, where city projects aren't photograph courtesy of Salem's Mayor Office accomplished based on an old-boy network of who you know. "I think that we've built a munici- pal government structure here that's much more professional," she says. Driscoll was a "Navy brat" who was born in Hawaii and grew up pri- marily in Florida, before moving to Salem to attend Salem State College. "I fell in love with my husband and fell in love with the city," she says. So she made a life there and has raised her three children there. As mayor, her accomplishments haven't been limited to budgets and spreadsheets. She's ushered the city into a kind of a renaissance while be- ing a champion of public education, local business, the arts, the LGBTQ community, history, and, especially, collaboration. "When I think about the future, I want this to be a place that has an incredible quality of life and a city that offers culture," she says. To her that means having strong neighbor- hoods and world-class amenities. It also means enlisting the many talented people and institutions who call Salem home. She points to stake- holders like Salem State University, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the National Park Service. "It's not about ego or who gets the credit…. All of those entities foster opportunity for our city," she says. "We are so much better together with all of our partners." BY ALEXANDRA PECCI Salem's first female mayor has been a straight shooter during her decade of service. First Lady In her 10-year tenure as Mayor of Salem, Driscoll has turned the city around. P LACE S

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