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September 26, 2013

Final election promises change

BEVERLY — With Tuesday’s preliminary election over, attention now shifts to a November final that could significantly change the city’s political landscape.

Voters will not only choose a new mayor on Nov. 5 but will also decide eight of the nine City Council seats and two School Committee races.

“The difference this year is that we’re going to have at least three new councilors,” said Ward 5 Councilor Don Martin, the only councilor not facing an opponent. “That and a new mayor is something we haven’t seen for a long time.”

The biggest race will pit Mike Cahill against Wes Slate for the right to succeed Bill Scanlon, who is not running for re-election after a record 18 years in office.

Cahill swept all six wards and bested Slate by more than 1,000 votes in Tuesday’s preliminary, establishing him as the favorite in November.

Slate’s hopes could hinge on what should be a significantly larger turnout in November. Just over 5,200 voters turned out on Tuesday, about 20 percent of the city’s 25,300 registered voters. Final elections typically have drawn twice as many voters.

Cahill won the preliminary election two years ago and then lost to Scanlon in the final. But Cahill’s preliminary margin of victory over Scanlon was only 194 votes, compared to the more than 1,000-vote difference over Slate on Tuesday.

Cahill also begins the final race with a money advantage. As of Aug. 30, Cahill had $17,713 in his campaign fund to Slate’s $9,662.

Arthur Powell, a Slate supporter who has been involved in Beverly political campaigns since 1979, said a larger turnout in the final could help Slate.

“You’re going to have people who are paying closer attention,” Powell said. “You are going to have ward races that didn’t exist in the preliminary, and those oftentimes are what drive turnout. I think there’s opportunity there.”

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