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October 15, 2013

Walsh: Budget is city's 'No. 1 issue'

Editor’s note: Tom Walsh and Scott Frasca are two of nine candidates running for five at-large seats in Peabody. Profiles of the other candidates will run in future editions of The Salem News. The election is Nov. 5.

PEABODY — Following a political career starting in the 1980s and interrupted in the ’90s, Tom Walsh, 53, got a license as an undertaker. Yet, although he works at Conway, Cahill-Brodeur Funeral Home in Peabody, his interest in government is still very much alive.

Walsh was part of the pack running for mayor in 2000, a race won by Mike Bonfanti. He is philosophical about the results.

“That was something I always wanted to do. You live with people’s decision,” he said.

If he’s abandoned the idea of being mayor, he still seeks public service. “The kids are older, which gives me more time. I happen to value the city. I’ve had a good life here,” Walsh said.

Walsh served two terms as an at-large councilor, starting in 1983. He recalled playing a role in the revitalization of the downtown then and the development of Centennial Park. He also served a term on the School Committee in 1997.

Starting in 1986, he was a state representative for four terms. He left following press questions regarding a golf outing deemed a conflict of interest, but he said, “I left because I wanted to. ... I didn’t see the legislature as a lifelong career.” He said he doubts that he could have lasted in an institution in which members are told to follow the leadership.

“I have a little bit of an independent streak,” he said.

These days, he believes the budget is the city’s “No. 1 issue. A good sound fiscal policy is one of the things that attracts people to Peabody.” Keeping the tax rate stable and “at the low end,” he said, is a balancing act between spending and services. “We’ve got to be really careful.” It might help to have a single facilities manager in charge of school and civic property, using that leverage to get better deals, he said.

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