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Beverly gears up for tightest mayoral primary in years

Posted by Justin Rice  September 16, 2011 07:24 AM

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Heading into the final weekend of campaigning before Tuesday's preliminary election, Beverly’s mayor candidates are all confident about one thing: the election is sure to be the closest primary the city has seen in a long time.

While incumbent Mayor William F. Scanlon, Jr. has 16 years in City Hall under his belt, he’s facing a former city Council president (Tim Flaherty), the current city council president who was also represented Beverly as a state rep (Michael Cahill) and a retired U.S. Army Sergeant (Euplio Marciano), who could not be reached for comment for this story.

“We haven’t had a race like this in years in Beverly,” Flaherty said. “I think it’s going to be exciting. It’s great for Beverly. People are involved.”

The mayoral race is not the only one on Tuesday’s ballot. Jim Carnazza, Scott Houseman and John Mullady are running for the Ward 4 City Council seat, which Kevin Hobin held for eight years but is not running for re-election this time around.  Houseman ran an unsuccessful bid for state representative last year and Carnazza and Mullady running as candidates in Beverly for the first time.

In both races the top two finishers will advance to the Nov. 8 final election. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Here’s a list of polling locations.

“I go to all the different polling places and stand there for a while at each one,” Scanlon, 71, said when asked if he has a election-day ritual or superstition. “I think they are all tough, they are all tough. I’ve done the best job I can. We’ll see what happens.”

First elected in 1994, Scanlon lost to Tom Crean in 2001 before returning two years later to beat Crean. He’s won back his office every year since with at least 59 percent of the vote.
“Life doesn’t end,” he said about the possibility of losing again.

And while he boasts about the completion of the city’s fifth major drainage project and the opening of the $81 million high school last year as his biggest accomplishments of this past term, Scanlon bristles at criticism from Cahill and Flaherty that he makes decisions on his own.

“It’s just inaccurate,” he said, noting there are 250 volunteers on boards such as the zoning board of appeals and the planning board. “There’s no person in the world that could make all those decisions; 99 percent of all decisions are made independent of me. Once people are appointed they are independent and make decisions.”

But Cahill, 49, who served in the State House for 10 years and has been Council president for two, said he would run a much more open administration than Scanlon.

“What I’m saying is my style will be to throw open the doors of City Hall and embrace the talent, energy and passion of the whole community to insure everyone has a voice,” said Cahill, whose late father, William Cahill, served as the city’s Ward 6 alderman in the 1960s. “It’s a management style that will be a departure from the way things are done now and I think it’s one that will be affective in allowing the community to make real strides.”

Flaherty, 44, who stepped down from the Council two years ago to run for mayor, said “running for mayor is a fulltime job in itself.” The former Beverly High football captain said if he’s elected his priorities will be education, infrastructure and creating efficiencies in government. He also chided the mayor for being secretive.

“The mayor holds things close to his chest,” Flaherty said. “It’s not Bill Scanlon’s seat. He’s been there for 16 years, I just think it’s time to bring more energy into the mayor’s office. I have the experience and passion to move Beverly forward.

“It’s time to move on and thank him for his service; 16 years is a long time. It’s time to put a fresh face on it.”

Justin A. Rice can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com.

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