BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — Mayor Bill Scanlon officially endorsed Wes Slate for mayor yesterday, calling the city councilor “a serious man pursuing a serious job.”
In prepared remarks delivered on the lawn outside City Hall, Scanlon announced his support for the Ward 2 city councilor, while at the same time criticizing Slate’s opponent, Mike Cahill, without mentioning his name.
“If he says he will do something, he will do it,” Scanlon said of Slate. “If he says he will be somewhere, he will be there — on time and well-prepared. He readily makes himself available to constituents and is well-known for returning all calls and messages promptly.”
The praise for Slate highlighted by contrast what is likely to become one of the major issues of the campaign — the contention by Scanlon, and now Slate, that Cahill did not put in the necessary time and effort during his two years as president of the City Council.
Scanlon, who is not running for re-election, made that criticism two years ago when he survived a strong challenge by Cahill for the mayor’s office. Slate repeated the theme yesterday, saying he was “very disappointed” in Cahill’s work ethic as council president in 2010 and 2011.
“The council president has a lot of responsibility, not just running a good meeting,” Slate said. “It’s a lot of preparation, homework, and time and effort. If you don’t put that time in and just come in cold and follow a pre-set script, it’s much more difficult to get things done.”
To emphasize his point, Slate is using “Wes will do the work” as his campaign slogan and calling himself “Wes the workhorse” on his campaign website and literature, accompanied by a picture of a horse pulling a wagon.
Cahill could not be reached for comment. He left a voice mail message saying, “For over 20 years I have worked hard to serve the people of Beverly well. I have always invited people to the table and valued the public’s right to participate and contribute to our community.”
Scanlon’s endorsement, which was filmed by the Slate campaign, marked the first major news in the mayoral campaign since the Sept. 24 preliminary election.
That election established Cahill, a former state representative and city councilor, as the favorite heading into the Nov. 5 final election, based on his more than 1,000-vote margin over Slate.
“I think it’s an uphill battle for Wes, but I’m optimistic,” Scanlon said.
Scanlon said Slate was up against a strong get-out-the-vote effort and citywide mailings by the Cahill campaign for the preliminary election.
Slate said he sent out targeted mailings but decided to hold off on the more expensive citywide mailings until the final election. He easily finished ahead of the third candidate, Euplio “Rick” Marciano, to qualify for the final.
The Slate campaign is counting on making up votes by appealing to the approximately 6,000 more voters who are expected to show up in November. Only 5,213 people, or 25 percent of registered voters, voted in the preliminary.
“I’ve had people that told me they support me and gave me money or put up a lawn sign and didn’t think the primary was enough of a reason to come out,” Slate said.
In his endorsement, Scanlon said Slate has put in “endless hours” in his six years as a city councilor, including serving as chairman of a committee that revised and updated more than 400 pages of city ordinances.
Scanlon made the endorsement with his wife, Louise, at his side. Louise Scanlon has donated $325 to Slate’s campaign, according to campaign finance records.
In his prepared remarks, Slate said his grandparents, who came to the United States from the Azores when they were teenagers, would have been proud to see their oldest grandchild run for mayor.
“They would have enjoyed this, but believing in the promise of this country, they would not have been totally surprised,” Slate said.
The 10 a.m. ceremony was attended by about a dozen people, including City Council President Paul Guanci, who has donated $100 to the Slate campaign.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.