BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — Mayor Bill Scanlon announced yesterday that he will not run for re-election, a decision that will end the longest mayoral run in city history.
Scanlon was first elected in 1993 and is serving his ninth two-year term. He said he still loves the job but could not muster the motivation for another campaign, which would have been the 11th of his unprecedented political career.
“I really tried to put myself in campaign mode again, and it really just didn’t fit,” he said. “It’s been a struggle to figure it out, but I’ve really just decided it’s time.”
Scanlon said he made his decision about 10 days ago but held off his announcement due to the Boston Marathon bombings. He gathered his staff at City Hall yesterday morning to inform them of his decision.
Scanlon, who is 73, said he is in good health and would have happily served another two years if his term were for four years, but did not relish the prospect of another campaign.
“It’s nearly impossible to really campaign hard and do the job,” he said. “The time I lost (to Tom Crean in 2001), I was spending a lot of time on the job.”
The announcement throws the race for mayor wide-open. Former City Council President Mike Cahill, who lost a close race to Scanlon in 2011, said yesterday that he is “seriously considering” another run and will make his decision soon.
“But today’s really a day to talk about Mayor Scanlon,” Cahill said. “I want to thank him for two decades of really exemplary service to our city.”
Another potential candidate, current City Council President Paul Guanci, said yesterday that he will probably not run. Guanci said it would be difficult financially to give up his Super Sub business, which he is considering expanding to another location.
“Over the past few months, I have given running for mayor serious consideration, but at this time, my family, my young family, has to come first,” he said. “Not being involved in the day-to-day decision-making and operation of my family business would not be economically responsible.”
Guanci also had high praise for Scanlon, saying he has left a “truly amazing mark on our city.”
“Those of us who have been supportive of the mayor throughout his tenure took it for granted that he would always be around to continue with all of the tremendous projects he has spearheaded,” Guanci said. “But I can definitely understand him not wanting to deal with the stresses and rigors of another campaign.”
Former City Council President Tim Flaherty, who finished third in the preliminary race two years ago, announced last month that he would not run this year. He was recently hired as director of the Cape Ann YMCA in Gloucester.
The fourth candidate in last year’s election, U.S. Army veteran Euplio Marciano, has taken out nomination papers to run again.
Scanlon said he gave “considerable thought” to running again in order to push through two key projects, the construction of a new middle school and the Brimbal Avenue interchange project.
He said he expects the school to be built in time for a 2017 opening and that he will offer his services on a volunteer basis to help complete the Brimbal Avenue project, which he said could lead to the creation of 7,500 jobs by opening up land to development.
Scanlon said he felt confident that he could win re-election but acknowledged that he has “never relished the campaign process.” He said his wife, Louise, was “very open-minded” about whether or not he should run.
Scanlon said he has “a bunch of things I want to do” in retirement, including reading and “working with my hands.” He would also like to stay involved in policy-making, although he did not specify in what respect.
“I don’t know where or how,” he said. “I don’t have anything lined up.”
Scanlon will finish out his term through the end of the year. He said he expects the first phase of the Brimbal Avenue project to start later in 2013. The second phase would take four or five years to complete.
The project involves redesigning the ramps leading from Route 128 to Brimbal Avenue and building a bridge over the highway. Scanlon said the project will open up acres of land for development that could generate $6 million to $8 million in annual taxes for the city.
“That’s incredible money,” he said.
In a press release, Scanlon thanked his “terrific staff and employees” and said they would be a “real asset” to his successor. He also thanked the citizens of Beverly and offered “special appreciation to city councilors and School Committee members who have trusted me and supported me. It has truly been a team effort.”
“Working together we have made great progress of which we can all be proud,” he said. “But as we also all know, this partnership in the renaissance of our city cannot continue forever.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.