SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 27, 2013

Benton: A big win for Cahill

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — It appears the biggest challenge facing Beverly mayoral candidate Michael Cahill heading into November’s election is overconfidence.

The former state representative and City Council president took a whopping 57 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s preliminary election, topping runner-up Wes Slate by more than 1,000 votes. That’s a far cry from two years ago when Cahill surprised incumbent Bill Scanlon by topping the ticket with 36.5 percent of the vote. (Unlike Tuesday, however, that election featured a third legitimate challenger in former councilor Tim Flaherty,who took 27.4 percent of the vote, finishing behind Scanlon who had 33.6 percent.)

Many, including Scanlon, believed the 2011 election was Cahill’s to lose, which he did to Scanlon by a narrow margin two months later. But the challenge facing Slate, the current Ward 2 councilor, is significantly more formidable.

Slate’s been working hard and will receive a formal endorsement from Scanlon soon. But the respect Beverly voters have for Scanlon’s smarts and prodigious work ethic is not easily transferable, and Slate, who has run only on the neighborhood level until now, faces an uphill slog.

---

Peabody Ward 3 City Council candidate James Moutsoulas recently forwarded a copy of his campaign brochure via a mutual friend.

It brought to mind a confrontation that took place in the late Salem News publisher Cy Newbegin’s office several decades ago following a series of editorials and columns that had targeted Moutsoulas and fellow councilor Joyce Spiliotis.

Newbegin heard them out but insisted that I be present. (During my 40-year career at the paper, I was fortunate in having worked for a series of supportive and fair-minded publishers beginning with Newbegin and extending to the current occupant of that office, Karen Andreas.)

While the unfavorable articles had been concerned solely with the pair’s actions as city councilors, Moutsoulas insisted there must be something personal behind them.

“I’ve got nothing against you personally,” I responded. “I just think you’re terrible city councilors.”

With that, Newbegin thanked them for coming and indicated the meeting was over.

(Spiliotis’ penchant for pandering to voters eventually propelled her to the Statehouse, where she served for many years before her premature death late in 2012; while Moutsoulas is in the midst of the latest in a series of attempted political comebacks.)

---

Worried about Congress not raising the debt ceiling? You should be.

Writing in The New York Times Magazine recently, NPR’s Adam Davidson notes, “If the American government can’t stand behind the dollar ... then the global financial system will very likely enter a new era in which there is much less trade and much less economic growth. It would be ... the largest self-imposed financial disaster in history.”

---

Here in the Grand Canyon State, the Board of Education is poised to change the name of the national Common Core student performance assessment to the “Arizona College and Career-Ready Standards.”

Nothing about the test or teaching methods will change, mind you. It’s just that when conservative legislators and others hear the words “Common Core,” they think of President Obama and start frothing at the mouth.

---

Datebook: Peabody Ward 4 Councilor Bob Driscoll will hold a Doo Wop Party fundraiser Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. at his home, 66 Franklin St. ... Peabody Councilor-at-large Anne Manning-Martin will kick off her re-election campaign with an event on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Santarpio’s Pizza on Route 1. ... The Beverly Democratic City Committee will hold its annual awards ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Wild Horse Café.