Marblehead grad running for Salem’s corner office

Dominick Pangallo, who graduated from Marblehead High School in 1999, has dedicated his career to public service, working as a legislative aide or chief of staff for elected officials. Most recently, he served as chief of staff for former Salem mayor and current Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll for a decade.

Dominick Pangallo, who graduated from Marblehead High School, is running for mayor of Salem. He served as chief of staff for former Salem mayor, now Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll for 10 years. COURTESY PHOTO / DOMINICK PANGALLO

Pangallo is now running to succeed Driscoll in a special election in May. In a five-way preliminary election held in March, he emerged victorious, securing 42.7% of the 7,211 votes cast. Neil Harrington, the second-place finisher, captured 31.9%, and the two now face off in the lead-up to the special election in May.

“I was definitely feeling good about the campaign we’ve been running. It was a very positive, grassroots-focused effort. We were doing a very heavy field campaign, so knocking on doors, making calls and doing the stuff you need to do to win,” said Pangallo. “We’re certainly continuing with that same approach for the final election.”

Growing up in North Salem, Pangallo and his twin brother, Matt, attended Marblehead Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.They were allowed to attend Marblehead schools because their father Salvatore Pangallo taught physical education at the old Bell School and coached wrestling and football.

“While attending school in Marblehead, I was involved in student government in middle school and high school, as well as Model United Nations,” Pangallo recalled. “The teachers I had in Marblehead Public Schools greatly influenced me and contributed to my interest in government and community involvement.”

Pangallo’s time in Marblehead nurtured a deep interest in political science, and he was very active in extracurricular activities. “I played football my freshman year in high school. But then a time constraint between doing theatrical stuff and doing football was just not compatible,” he explained. “In the end, I was more theatrically inclined than athletically inclined.”

At Bates College, Pangallo continued his involvement in student government and theater. He led the Robinson Players, Bates’ theater group, and wrote a weekly political column for The Bates Student, the school’s newspaper. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and in theater and later earned master’s degrees in public administration and political science from Suffolk University.

Pangallo returned to Salem after college and managed the campaign for state representative John Keenan. Upon winning, Keenan asked Pangallo to be his chief of staff. Initially, Pangallo envisioned serving on Capitol Hill as chief of staff or legislative aide to a representative and/or senator. However, the congressional gridlock he witnessed during a college internship jaded him.

“Seeing and working with city officials and on local problems, I realized big change can come most powerfully from the local level,” he said. “I felt like we were making a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis.”

Pangallo succeeded Jason Silva, former chief of staff to Driscoll and Marblehead town administrator, in 2013. As a key player in the revitalization that Salem underwent during Driscoll’s 16-year tenure, Pangallo highlights their strong partnership.

Dominick Pangallo, Marblehead class of 1999, and his former boss, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, pose for a photo. Pangallo, a candidate for mayor in Salem, was Driscoll’s chief of staff during part of her tenure as Salem’s mayor. COURTESY PHOTO / LT. GOV. KIM DRISCOLL

“We had a very aligned vision and values that focused on a city that could be professionally managed, innovative, responsive, sustainable, equitable and forward-looking,” he said. While Driscoll focused on setting larger goals, Pangallo’s detail-oriented approach helped drive day-to-day operations.

Pangallo has helped implement policies at City Hall, concentrating on transparent governance, fiscal management, affordable housing, transportation and local climate action. As a key member of the city’s COVID response team, he assisted in coordinating testing, a vaccination program and maintaining access to essential services during the pandemic.

“Our economic recovery task force was so focused on supporting our small businesses that we had no net loss of businesses,” he said. “We didn’t have to lay off any employees. We had a wastewater surveillance testing program that served as a model for other cities and towns.”

Pangallo takes pride in the Salem Skipper, a popular on-demand ride service. For $2, people can get a ride to buy groceries or pick up prescriptions.

“It came about through Salem For All Ages as a way to provide a low-income transportation option for Salem seniors,” he said. “But it’s used by everybody.”

If he wins, Pangallo sees opportunities to partner with Marblehead.

“I think there is potential for collaboration in transportation, education and improving connections between all the communities on the North Shore,” he said. “I think there’s room to partner on climate change. I believe that’s the greatest existential crisis we face as coastal communities.”

Early in his campaign, Pangallo found it “different” to discuss his accomplishments in the first person.

“As the chief of staff, your job is not to put yourself forward, not to be a self-promoter,” he said, adding that the role was about supporting the administration’s agenda. “I’ve been so accustomed to not putting myself forward.”

Pangallo lives with his wife, Kristin, and their two daughters in Salem.

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