SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 24, 2013

Mayoral candidates debate for final time

(Continued)

In response to a question about the school district’s low ranking in a recent Boston Magazine story, Cahill said he would spend more time in the schools as mayor and start summer learning and early literacy programs with the help of nonprofits and businesses.

“There’s a lot of greatness that goes every day in our schools, but we know we can and should do better,” he said.

Slate said the schools have experienced a “vacuum in leadership” with the departure of the superintendent and assistant superintendent.

He said it’s important to hire a new superintendent who is a “very dynamic leader and the biggest cheerleader for our schools.”

Both candidates said they would emphasize transparency in their administrations, by improving the city’s website, taking advantage of social media and tracking responses to citizens’ requests.

Cahill said he and his department heads would go out into the neighborhoods to meet with people.

When asked about competing against Salem and Peabody in attracting businesses, Slate said he would hire a full-time economic development person.

Cahill said he would like to do the same but couldn’t promise “to do it overnight” because of the cost involved.

Asked to rank the condition of the downtown’s sidewalks, city buildings and parking lots on a scale of one to 10, Slate said he would give a “C-plus for effort,” while Cahill said he would give it a ranking of “3 or 4.”

Both said the city’s public services department does a good job but is understaffed.

The forum also included statements by Ward 2 City Council candidates Bryant Ayles and Estelle Rand; Ward 3 City Council candidates Scott Hunt and incumbent Jim Latter; and at-large candidates Paul Guanci, Todd Murphy, Todd Rotondo, Matt St. Hilaire and Jason Silva. Guanci and Silva are incumbents.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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