After Bill Scanlon’s 18 years of strong, visionary leadership in the corner office, Beverly voters find themselves having to choose a replacement for him.
Both candidates — Michael Cahill and Wes Slate — have the experience, education and qualifications one would want in a municipal chief executive. And the latter, who currently represents Ward 2 on the City Council, has the incumbent’s backing.
But two years ago, voters indicated they were ready for change when Cahill came within 353 votes of upsetting Scanlon, and the 51-year-old city native deserves a chance to lead now.
Like Scanlon, Cahill favors a balanced approach to development and fiscal issues. But he promises a more inclusive approach that would provide stakeholders with more opportunities to be heard on issues affecting the city as a whole and their neighborhoods in particular.
Residents of the Brimbal Avenue area, for example, feel they were shut out of the process that will likely result in major traffic and development changes that will affect their neighborhood for decades to come. Make no mistake, the project is vital to the growth of the city’s tax base, which pays for projects such as new schools. Yes, residents were informed of the project. Informed and included, however, are two different things.
Cahill supports the project but has said “the public process ... should have started sooner and been more proactive in engaging the surrounding neighborhoods.” The effort, he said, could have resulted in a better project for everyone.
The former teacher has a strong record of service to the city, spending five terms as Beverly’s state representative from 1993 to 2002, giving up the office in a failed bid for state treasurer. Seven years later, he ran for City Council and was the top vote-getter, earning the role of council president. In his current job as executive director of the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs, he lobbies state legislators on health-and-wellness issues for the state’s 106 YMCA branches.