By Paul Leighton
BEVERLY — Election Day might be next Tuesday, but an election that's more than a year away just got very interesting.
Former City Councilor Tim Flaherty said last night that he will run for mayor in 2011. When informed of Flaherty's decision, Mayor Bill Scanlon confirmed for the first time publicly that he will be running, too.
"I haven't announced, but I do intend to run," Scanlon said last night.
Flaherty has launched a "Flaherty for Mayor" website and said he will hold his campaign kickoff Nov. 18 at the Italian Community Center.
"I thought the time was right," Flaherty said. "It's right for my family at this time."
Flaherty, 43, served as an at-large city councilor for 12 years and three times topped the ballot to become City Council president.
He decided not to run for re-election last year but never ruled out a future run for mayor.
Scanlon, 70, is in the middle of a record eighth two-year term as mayor. He has won his last four elections with at least 59 percent of the vote since losing to Tom Crean in 2001.
Flaherty said he is looking forward to the challenge of taking on Scanlon.
"I think people are looking for fresh ideas," Flaherty said. "I think Beverly will have a clear, credible choice. This is not a negative campaign. It's about the experiences that I've had. I'm running because I want to make a difference, and I feel I have the experience to make that happen."
Scanlon said he has known "for some time" that Flaherty was interested in running for mayor. Asked his reaction to Flaherty's candidacy, Scanlon said, "I have no particular reaction."
Flaherty, a Beverly native, works as a funeral director at the Grondin Funeral Home. Before entering the funeral business 10 years ago, he was the youth director at the McPherson Youth Center and a local director for the North Shore YMCA.
Flaherty and his wife, Anne, a Beverly High School teacher, have four children, two at the high school and two at Briscoe Middle School.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.