BEVERLY — Voters yesterday entrusted the city’s future to Mike Cahill, a former state representative and city councilor who won a historic election to become his hometown’s 31st mayor.
Cahill took more than 55 percent of the vote to defeat Ward 2 City Councilor Wes Slate and become the successor to Bill Scanlon, the nine-term mayor who has dominated the city’s political scene for the last two decades.
When Cahill emerged smiling from the kitchen at the Italian Community Center, where he had been huddled with his campaign team tallying the votes, the nearly 300 supporters who were jammed into the upstairs room at the Rantoul Street club erupted in applause.
“This feels pretty good, huh?” Cahill said to the crowd. “It feels a lot better than when we walked out of that back room two years ago.”
Cahill was referring to the scene in 2011, when he fell 353 votes short of beating Scanlon. When Scanlon decided not to run for re-election after a record 18 years in office, Cahill became the immediate favorite to succeed him.
Cahill beat Slate by nearly 1,200 votes and won four of the city’s six wards. Slate won his own ward, Ward 2, and also took Ward 4. City officials pegged turnout at 41 percent, which was lower than the last two mayoral elections.
“This is your victory. This is our victory. This is Beverly’s victory,” Cahill said to his supporters. “This is a great night.”
As Cahill was giving his victory speech, Slate arrived to congratulate him. Slate walked across the floor, shook Cahill’s hand and gave him a shoulder-to-shoulder hug.
Cahill did not mention Slate when he continued talking. Cahill had accused Slate of “character assassination” during the campaign when Slate sent out a mailer criticizing Cahill’s work ethic.
Later in the night at the Cove Community Center, Slate said he had no hard feelings toward Cahill and had no regrets about his campaign.