BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — Native son Mike Cahill promised an era of “open and inclusive” government as he was sworn in as the city’s 31st mayor yesterday at Beverly High School.
Standing on stage in the auditorium of his alma mater, Cahill invited residents to take an active role in helping him lead the city in a time of change.
“As I take office today, I believe that I have some good ideas — and that so do each and every one of you,” Cahill told the crowd of about 500 people. “That is why I believe so strongly that we will shape the best future possible for Beverly by doing it together.”
Cahill said his administration will hold a series of community meetings this year “on various topics and projects.” He announced one specific initiative, the creation of a committee to address the concerns of business owners and residents during a two-year project to repave Rantoul Street/Route 1A that is scheduled to start later this year.
To emphasize his focus on open government, Cahill invited residents to stop by City Hall to meet him and other elected officials during an open house Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Yesterday’s inauguration capped Cahill’s ascension to the city’s highest office after 10 years as a state representative and two years as City Council president.
The 52-year-old former teacher and coach opened his speech by thanking his large family, including his late parents, Jeanne, a longtime teacher in the city, and Bill, who served on the city’s Board of Aldermen.
“My mother and father were everything parents are supposed to be and so much more,” Cahill said. “Their love for my brothers and me was boundless, and the joy they took in us was and is awe-inspiring.”
Robert Cahill, one of Mike Cahill’s six brothers, served as master of ceremonies for the inauguration.
Cahill takes over as mayor from Bill Scanlon, who did not run for re-election after a record 18 years in office. Scanlon did not attend the inauguration.
Cahill said the city’s biggest challenge will be improving the quality of life in a time of “limited public resources.” To do that, he said, the city will have to find new sources of funding, such as grants and partnerships with businesses and nonprofits.
Cahill said he would “move quickly” on several fronts — updating the master plan; unlocking the waterfront to allow for restaurants, shops and a harbor walkway; ensuring timely construction of a new middle school; and working with neighbors on the Brimbal Avenue traffic project.
“I am determined that our children and grandchildren will live in a Beverly with outstanding schools, safe neighborhoods, open spaces to enjoy, a strong local economy to provide jobs and needed tax revenues, safe drinking water and clean air, and a community that continues to care for its own,” he said.
Wrapping up his seven-minute speech, Cahill said people should expect to see him “all over town” and should not hesitate to visit him at City Hall or stop him when they see him.
“This is both an exciting time and a critically important one for Beverly’s future,” he said. “... Together, let us shape the brightest future we can imagine, and our city will thrive for years to come.”
Nine city councilors and six School Committee members were also sworn into office by City Clerk Kathleen Connolly. Five of them — councilors John Frates, David Lang, Matt St. Hilaire and Estelle Rand, and School Committee member Lorinda Visnick — are new.
In his speech, returning City Council President Paul Guanci called the newly formed City Council “a fantastic group to work with.”
“Mayor Cahill,” he said, “think of the council as an asset and I know we will be able to continue to move Beverly forward.”
Guanci also urged residents to get involved. He joked that he wished all of the City Council meetings where as heavily attended as the inauguration, saying they usually include only City Hall regulars — “two Marys, a Rick, a Rosemary and, occasionally, a Pam.”
Guanci held up the city’s book of 25,000 registered voters, saying, “That’s a wealth of talent. Stay involved.”
In a short City Council meeting after the swearing-in ceremonies, Guanci named veteran Ward 3 Councilor Jim Latter as the council vice-president.
The ceremony included the singing of the national anthem by the Beverly High School Vocal Ensemble and a musical selection by the high school Jazz and String Ensemble. The Marine Corps Junior ROTC Color Guard presented the colors.
Julie DeSilva, Cahill’s campaign manager, gave the welcoming remarks. Rabbi Alison Adler of Temple B’nai Abraham, the Rev. Brian Miller of Dane Street Congregational Church and the Rev. Mark Mahoney of the city’s three Catholic Churches all participated in the ceremony.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.