BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — The two leading candidates to succeed Bill Scanlon say they have no problem with the lame-duck mayor choosing a police chief before he leaves office.
Mike Cahill and Wes Slate both said yesterday that they are fine with Scanlon’s decision to appoint a chief rather than wait for the new mayor to make that decision.
“Given the importance of public safety to the community and the need for a clear succession in that office, I think it makes sense to not wait and keep things in a holding pattern,” Cahill said. “The mayor was elected by the voters for a full two-year term. Regardless of the fact that he’s not running for re-election, this is part of the job that people elected him to do.”
Scanlon plans to begin the search soon for a new police chief to replace Mark Ray, who will retire Sept. 13. Scanlon has said he intends to pick the new chief, despite the fact that he is not running for re-election.
Scanlon acknowledged that the new mayor will be the one who will be working closely with the new chief, “but at this point all the experience with the department and the chief and what the job entails lies with me.”
“The current chief is going to retire in the first half of September, so I think it’s a decision I have to pursue and make,” he said.
Wes Slate, the Ward 2 city councilor who is running for mayor, said he has no problem with Scanlon picking the police chief before he leaves office.
“It’s one thing to be a lame duck and another thing to let things slide,” Slate said. “Scanlon is not a let-things-slide kind of guy. It’s not his nature. I’m certainly comfortable with the mayor’s ability to make decisions. I’ve supported him in the past, and I support him now.”
The only mayoral candidate to disagree was Euplio “Rick” Marciano, a U.S. Army veteran who has made several unsuccessful runs for public office. Marciano said Scanlon should hold off on appointing a police chief and let the next mayor decide.
“Since he’ll be working with the new chief, the new mayor should have the choice,” Marciano said.
Cahill, a former state representative and City Council president who lost to Scanlon two years ago, said he spoke with the mayor yesterday about the police chief search.
Cahill said he asked Scanlon to have some input in the hiring process if he is elected on Nov. 5 and a new chief has not yet been appointed.
“I have confidence in Mayor Scanlon’s ability to identify and nominate a strong candidate,” Cahill said. “If, in fact, come Nov. 5, voters decide I’ll be the next mayor, I’ll look to have some more conversation with him (about the next police chief).”
If Slate is elected, he said he will sit down with Scanlon and discuss a variety of topics, including the new police chief.
“I’ve always had an excellent relationship with him and continue to have an excellent relationship with him,” Slate said.
Scanlon has said he plans to hire an outside consultant to help with the search process and will consider candidates from both inside and outside the police department. Capt. Christopher Negrotti will serve as interim chief and has also said he will apply for the chief’s job.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.