Voters here are used to seeing the name Usovicz on the ballot.

But in elections past it was preceded by Stanley, the city's former mayor who was unseated in 2005. When voters head to the polls on Tuesday, they will determine the political fate of Mary, the former "first lady" of Salem and a rookie candidate making a bid for the Ward 3 City Council seat.

She has an uphill battle. Her opponent, incumbent Jean Pelletier, has made a name for himself during two terms on the council, including a stint as president in 2006.

The stakes are high in Ward 3, particularly for Mayor Kim Driscoll. Pelletier has been a consistent supporter of the first-term mayor. Usovicz, if elected, will be endorsing or rejecting initiatives offered by the woman who ousted her husband from the corner office.

Usovicz said the mayor deserves support.

"It's a tough job, and we need to work as a team," she said.

She said she wouldn't be a rubber stamp for the mayor, but neither would she reflexively oppose any proposal Driscoll puts forward. Instead, she would make decisions in the best interests of constituents.

Ward 3 reaches all the way from downtown Salem to the Lynn line and includes the police station, St. Anne Church and the east side of Highland Avenue.

Why is Pelletier running for a third, two-year term?

"To finish what I started," he said.

That includes addressing the city's flooding problems, which Pelletier started to address by spearheading a storm drain cleanup program. He also took a leadership role in establishing the city's homelessness task force.

Pelletier touted his success preventing the designation of a portion of the ward as an adult entertainment zone and his advocacy of the Police Department's community impact unit, a group of officers that follows up on calls and tackles small problems before they mushroom into larger ones.

"They're doing a great job," Pelletier said.

Usovicz, who was organizing voter registration drives in high school, has always loved politics. She said her focus would be constituent service, helping to solve residents' day-to-day issues, like potholes or the need for a stop sign at a dangerous intersection.

She said she would promote public/private partnerships to save the city money, citing the restoration of City Hall, a project funded by private donations that she helped make happen. Usovicz also said the city could save money by taking the environmentally friendly step of increasing recycling and cutting back on the money it spends on trash disposal.

"I really want to give back to the city," she said, explaining her reason for seeking office.

It's a sentiment also at the heart of Pelletier's motivation.

"I just like helping people," he said.

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