SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 16, 2013

Letter: A sad attack on an exemplary leader


The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

While I’ve not met Wes Slate, I am aware of his work on the Beverly City Council over the last half dozen years, during all of which I have been a Beverly resident and voter. But I have read his mail drop piece, which arrived yesterday.

It made me sad, even though we’ve all grown accustomed to vitriol in our national politics. In general, the consequence of this unhealthy circumstance has typically been to see more responsible and thoughtful leadership occur at the state (sometimes) and municipal (often) levels. Yet his piece provides virtually no substantive basis (other than economic development platitudes about which there is no debate or disagreement with his opponent) for understanding him, his priorities, his plan, his policies or his principles.

It also made me angry. Because, while he aims to denigrate his opponent, he is really insulting the citizens of Beverly. If Mike Cahill is so bad, why did we elect him and re-elect him to the state Legislature five times, always by overwhelming margins? If he is so bad, why did we elect him to the City Council as the top vote getter? If he is so bad, why did we give him nearly as many votes as the long-serving, now-departing incumbent mayor? Does Wes Slate really believe we — Beverly’s residents and voters — are so inattentive and incompetent to have been so badly fooled so many times?

We were not fooled because Mike Cahill has been and can continue to be an excellent leader for our city. As a state representative, Mike Cahill helped the citizens of Beverly with important constituent services (I saw this personally as a senior state administration official) and served the public’s best interests by overseeing critical legislative reforms (I understood this as an observant citizen). These produced results, with new projects in Beverly and useful assistance for Beverly, its businesses, citizens and schools.

Moreover, I’m not inattentive now, that’s for sure: I am paying attention to Mr. Slate’s lack of articulated ideas or initiatives; and I am paying attention to his character assassination of a man who has worked in public education, youth services, and public service for his entire adult life, who has remained true to his roots in this, his native city, where he and his five brothers were raised by a widowed Beverly high school teacher and where he and those brothers all still contribute to the life of the community.

And I’m not incompetent either: I have served in government, both as a gubernatorial appointee for the commonwealth and as a local official in my former town; I have worked on political campaigns; and I am intent now even more than before in urging my fellow citizens to turn out not merely to vote affirmatively for Mike Cahill but also to reject the type of negativity and nastiness Mr. Slate has displayed.

I’m sure Wes Slate is a good and nice man, with lots of friends and family who will defend his character. But our character is revealed by our words and deeds. His in this instance do not reflect well on him. Beverly deserves better.

R.J. Lyman

Beverly