Kim Driscoll

Mayor

Salem, MA

Pro-Growth Progressive Idea: Redeveloping a coal power plant site to transform Salem’s waterfront

Kim Driscoll is the first female Mayor of Salem, where she began her first term in January of 2006. Prior to being elected Mayor, Kim served as the Deputy City Manager for the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts, as well as serving two terms on the Salem City Council.  Kim also has an extensive background in planning and land use development, having held public and private positions working with community development and land planning.

Kim has worked on professionalizing all aspects of local government in Salem, including resolution of a looming multi-million dollar budget deficit.  Under her leadership, the city has restored financial stability while embracing new projects and programs such as an updated community web site aimed at improving transparency and customer service and a complete re-organization of city government aimed at reducing redundancies and streamlining operations. The early success of these efforts has led to renewed interest and investment in Salem, both within the downtown and throughout the community.

Pro-Growth Progressive Ideas Shared

Problem

Many low-income individuals who do not speak English as their first language face several challenges from obtaining meaningful full-time positions with stable wages in key industry sectors or to excel in their careers. 

Solution

Mayor Kim Driscoll helped create an occupational skills training program in Salem, Massachusetts aimed at low-income, unemployed or underemployed non-native English speakers that focuses first on key career skills (i.e. Microsoft Office and general computer skills) and then on specific emerging industry sectors. The City partnered with the regional Workforce Investment Board and Career Center, the community college system, local major healthcare employers (two major hospitals), and other community level stakeholders to help make this program a success . The program has already successfully matched many of these individuals to full-time employment in its first year and Mayor Driscoll is hopeful for expanding the program to reach more participants. 


Problem

Salem’s downtown pedestrian mall was in need of a variety of improvements; it was tired, in need of maintenance and repair, was not pedestrian friendly, and had vacant storefronts. Without improvements, the area lacked a strong sense of community and economic activity was hindered.

Solution

Mayor Driscoll is leading the planning stages of a downtown redesign based on feedback from residents who identified public art as a means to create a great public space and enhance the economic development potential of this area. The city is starting a formal public art initiative through development of a master plan for public art, adoption of an Ordinance by Council to establish a Public Art Ordinance, and the hiring of the first Public Art Planner. This is a smart investment for everyone because art and culture add vibrancy to neighborhoods, bring people together, attract tourists to visit and stay longer, and serve as an economic development tool.


Problem

One of the biggest obstacles in preparing students--especially lower income kids--to contribute as thoughtful young leaders within our community is our antiquated school calendar.

Solution

Mayor Driscoll is leading a coalition of parents, teachers, and researchers to modernize education by redesigning and extending the school day in her city. By implementing an Expanded Learning Time program, the longer school day gives kids more time to gain critical skills, allows teachers to target their time on what works best, and helps parents keep their kids out of trouble after school.