BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — Mike Cahill and Wes Slate might agree on most issues facing the city, but there’s one topic that continues to roil the mayoral campaign.
Cahill yesterday released a new piece of campaign literature defending against Slate’s attacks on his voting record as state representative and his effectiveness as City Council president.
Cahill said he had a 95 percent voting record in his 10 years as the city’s state representative from 1993 to 2002 and attended 51 of 52 City Council meetings during his two years as council president in 2010 and 2011.
In his latest campaign mailer, Cahill accused Slate of breaking a promise not to engage in negative campaigning.
“For years, I have counted my current opponent, Wes Slate, as a valued friend,” Cahill wrote. “... Unfortunately, my opponent broke his promise to you.”
The controversy over Cahill’s voting record as state representative began last week when the Slate campaign sent out a mailing stating that Cahill had the ninth-worst voting record in the state in his 10 years on Beacon Hill.
But in an interview, Slate said that statistic applies only to Cahill’s final year as state representative, in 2002, and not to his entire 10-year term, as the mailer suggested.
Slate said his criticism of Cahill’s more recent City Council tenure is more relevant. He has said that Cahill was not prepared for meetings and seemed “distracted and not engaged.”
“What’s relevant to this campaign is the time we spent serving on the same council, in the same room, in the same meetings,” Slate said.
In defending his voting record, Cahill said being an effective state representative “consists of much more than casting votes.”
He said he missed an afternoon of votes one day because he was in a three-hour meeting with state revenue officials trying to iron out details of special legislation to help Beverly out of an $8 million deficit without making drastic cuts.
Cahill said the only City Council meeting he missed was due to a business meeting in Chicago in his job as executive director of the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs.
Both candidates cited Beacon Hill Roll Call as the source for their information on Cahill’s state representative voting record.
The two candidates are scheduled to debate Wednesday night at 7 at Beverly High School in a forum held by Beverly Main Streets. The election is Nov. 5.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.