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August 29, 2012

Manning is not afraid to make waves

This is the second of four profiles of the Democratic candidates for state Senate in the 2nd Essex District. The nominee will be elected in the Democratic primary on Thursday, Sept. 6.

PEABODY — Mary-Ellen Manning is nothing if not passionate. She’s not afraid to speak up, not afraid to throw barbs, not afraid to ruffle a few feathers if she believes it is for a just cause and a worthy outcome.

“I’m always glad to be in the minority if my position is for decency, common sense and fairness,” said Manning, a civil rights attorney from Peabody and one of four candidates eyeing the state Senate seat now held by retiring Sen. Fred Berry. “The people of the commonwealth are tired of the go-along-to-get-along politicians they’ve sadly grown accustomed to.”

Manning, the local representative on the Governor’s Council, is the daughter of a former Peabody elementary school principal and the oldest of four siblings; her sister Anne is a Peabody city councilor.

Manning has positioned herself in this campaign as a budget hawk, someone who is fed up with government waste and has pledged to make the cuts she feels are necessary to preserve essential services. Her passion for efficiency was honed when, after graduating from Brandeis University, she worked at a consulting firm, traveling the country crunching numbers and helping businesses trim fat and stay competitive. One assignment at an AT&T factory in Shreveport, La., sticks in her mind.

“It was tough, but if the factory closed, the entire town would have gone under,” Manning said. “It’s very similar with state government, just on a larger scale. We need to set priorities so there is enough money available for the safety net, to build a sustainable economy, for the roads and public safety. We have to make some hard decisions.”

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