Photo by Ryan Mooney
On the same night that long-time State Senator Fred Berry addressed his colleagues and bid farewell on Beacon Hill, his replacement received a warm farewell from her colleagues in the chamber that she has called home for the past 15 years.
And then Senator-elect Joan Lovely got right back to work.
Lovely is resigning from her post, effective January 1, as president of the Salem City Council and councilor-at-large to represent the Second Essex District. Her fellow city councilors know that means she won't be far away - the district is made up of Salem, Peabody, Beverly, Danvers and Topsfield - but it was evident as they all addressed her Thursday night before the council's regular meeting that they will miss her, and the leadership she brought to the council chamber just the same.
"To sit in this room as we do, as a lot of us have for so many years, we spend more time with this group than we do even sometimes with our own families, and it's very difficult when you have to let a family member go," Ward 1 Councilor Bob McCarthy said. "She's not going far, but from day one - as has been said, I don't need to repeat it - you've been a role model ... somebody that all of us should emulate.
"I know she's going to go on to do great things for this city and this district."
Lovely cruised to victory in the November 6 election, defeating Republican hopeful Richard Jolitz, of Beverly, more than doubling the vote total for Jolitz throughout the district.
"You know the people of Salem and you know their issues, and now you know the people of your district and you know their issues also," Councilor-at-large Arthur Sargent said. "Sometimes in life you pick the time you do something, and other times the time picks you."
She has served on the Salem City Council since 1998, representing Ward 3 from 1998 to 2003, serving as a councilor-at-large since 2004, and two stints as council president.
"Even when I don't agree with you, you give a good explanation of why you take that position," Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan said. "I think you'll do a great job for the city and the region in the state Senate, and I use you as a role model.
"I think you're an excellent councilor...it's going to be sad to see you go, but it will be good to have you at the state house."
Former councilors Lucy Corchado and Steve Pinto, as well as local business owner Darek Barcikowski, have indicated interest in succeeding Lovely.
After receiving a couple of parting gifts from rest of the council before Thursday night?s meeting, she went right back to work "doing the peoples' business" at her last full council meeting, something she promises to continue for the city of Salem from her new seat at the State House.
"It's just been a pleasure and an honor for 15 years to serve this city, and now to go on and serve in another capacity, I'm really looking forward to it," Lovely said. "I know we won't be strangers. I know we'll still communicate often, and talk about issues, and 'hash things out' as we say.
"I'm just so proud to have been a part of it here...I look forward to taking that experience up to Beacon Hill and being a good legislator there."