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Endorsements on Parade: Protest in Springfield…by Voting…

Our city too. (WMassP&I)

Our city too. (WMassP&I)

Before the casino referendum vote in July of 2013, we urged Springfield residents to vote with their whole heart, their whole soul and their whole mind. It was crucial that they rise and register their opinion that day. Tuesday’s mayoral election in Springfield, may not be as consequential as that vote and far less climactic, but we implore residents to take it with the same level of seriousness.

We expect Domenic Sarno to win Tuesday, but we are not endorsing him. Despite our expectations, we urge residents to get out and vote and cast a ballot for his challenger Salvatore Circosta, not because he will win, but because we must send our mayor a message about the direction of our city.

Sarno needs a wakeup call, but we do not how else to do it.

We credit and we believe his love for the city. There is good news in Springfield. Finances are better, hardly perfect, but better. Projects like Union Station and the railcar plant are underway.

Yet a malaise still hangs over the Land of Springfield. Small businesses have closed, retail corridors lie fallow, entire populations remain disenfranchised.

Mayor Domenic Sarno, physically absent, but still very much present at Thursday's forum. (WMassP&I)

Domenic Sarno (WMassP&I)

Something subtler and more disconcerting troubles us. Sarno claims his door is open to ideas, but the inner sanctum of his mind is quite closed. Dissent is lambasted as naysaying or summarily dismissed. There can be a Nixonian paranoia around the mayor’s office that serves neither the city nor Sarno himself well.

Retaining long-serving staff who are effective and forward thinking is fine. Yet, too often when critical appointments are necessary, Sarno reaches for the usual suspects. When called out, his City Hall shrugs and says nobody else was interested. Try harder! Engage the whole city fully and applicants and volunteers will rise.

What makes this all the more troubling is that many whoo knew Sarno before he became mayor have seen a shift. Open, convivial and concerned—attributes that flash from time to time now—were his hallmarks when running the South End Community Center and serving as a councilor. That Sarno has been replaced by one who is insular, touchy and cavalier.

We have no doubt in our mind that Sarno would reject such descriptions. However, that is the insidious thing about how power corrupts—or at least changes—people. It can happen without ever realizing it has happened.

Take not our resign to tomorrow’s outcome for despair. We are a part of this community as much as Sarno and Circosta and we want it to be better, to do better and strive for better than platitudes, propaganda and past-due proposals.

Sal Circosta (via Twitter/@sal4springfield)

Cast a ballot for Circosta to register protest with the current regime, lest Sarno receive a margin of autocratic proportions and nothing changes.

To Sarno himself, please, do not cast off our editorial as the grumblings of a blogging gadfly. Look within yourself and consider these words, not as those of an enemy, but as those of a compatriot in the cause that is Springfield.