BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — 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.”
In the City Council race, voters will select new members in Ward 1 and Ward 2 and at least one new at-large councilor.
The at-large race includes a five-man field for the three citywide seats. Incumbents Paul Guanci and Jason Silva will be on the ballot, along with newcomers Matthew St. Hilaire, Todd Murphy and Todd Rotondo.
Five of the six ward councilor seats are also up for grabs, with incumbents Jim Latter, Scott Houseman and Brett Schetzsle all facing challengers.
Voters will select new councilors in Ward 1, where Maureen Troubetaris is retiring, and in Ward 2, where Slate is stepping aside to run for mayor. School Committee incumbents Maria Decker and AnneMarie Cesa-McNulty also have challengers.
No matter what happens, Martin said the election will be unique because Scanlon is not on the ballot for the first time in 20 years.
“We don’t know how a new council will react to a new mayor,” Martin said. “Will they endorse his policies or will they counter with their own? There’s a lot of unknowns as we go into January. It’s also, in a lot of ways, an exciting period, too. There are going to be a lot of new faces and, hopefully, some newer ideas.”
Two candidates’ forums have been scheduled so far, on Oct. 10 at Cove Community Center and Oct. 23 at Beverly High School.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City Councilor At Large
Councilor Ward 1
Councilor Ward 2
Councilor Ward 3
Councilor Ward 4
Councilor Ward 6
School Committee Ward 5
School Committee Ward 6
(*) denotes incumbent