Former Rep. Kerans: 'I know how to do this job'

Sally Kerans

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of five profiles on the candidates for 13th Essex District state representative

DANVERS — Sally Kerans, 60, said she’s been interested in politics and civic responsibility ever since she was in elementary school.

“My first campaign I was 10,” said Kerans, a Danvers native and former state lawmaker who has served as a Town Meeting member and currently serves on the Finance Committee and the Human Rights and Inclusion Committee. “It was the campaign to elect Jack King, our state representative, in 1970. I later worked for Jack as an intern when he was in the state Senate.”

Kerans was eventually elected to represent the 13th Essex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1990, and she held the seat until 1997 when she chose to retire. Kerans said she’s ready now to take that seat back and represent her community again.

Longtime state Rep. Ted Speliotis’ decision earlier this year to retire from the Legislature at the end of his term generated a complicated five-way race for his seat in the 13th Essex, which represents Danvers, West Peabody, and part of Middleton.

Kerans is the Democratic candidate in the race and is running against Republican Robert May, of West Peabody, as well as three candidates with no party affiliation: Local attorney Jason Guida, of Danvers; former district coordinator for Speliotis and Danvers resident, Bill Bates; and food industry entrepreneur Chris Keohane, of Danvers.

“My thought when (Speliotis) announced he would not run was ‘this is going to be a very rough time in our state and for our communities and I know how to do this job. That’s how I can help in this moment,’” Kerans said.

Prior to Speliotis’ decision in April, she was not planning to run, she said.

“It was this specific moment where we were going to lose our current state representative and we were going to have to elect somebody new,” she said, adding that having an experienced legislator helping the district is of paramount importance at this point in history. “I’m running to help guide our communities through this (coronavirus) crisis and to make sure that the state government is a helpful partner, not an obstacle to recovery, during both the public health crisis and the economic crisis.”

The ongoing crisis, Kerans said, is at the top of many constituents’ minds, and she feels her identity as a mother and active member of the community helps her advocate for the residents of the 13th Essex District.

“My experience in the community and in the Legislature really give me an ability to get to work right away and to be an effective representative for our district,” she said. “I know how to work with colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans. I know how to build alliances and relationships to pass legislation to get that local priority addressed, whether it’s local aid or whether it is infrastructure projects. I’m able to do that because I’ve done it. I really want to bring all of that experience to the table and to help my community right now through this very difficult time and beyond.”

If elected, Kerans said, she would focus on attempting to secure aid for child care providers, working toward distributing a potential future coronavirus vaccine in an equitable way, investing in small businesses, and improving local transportation. She also added that she is strongly pro-choice, and that she would advocate for a woman’s right to choose whether or not to get an abortion if she were elected to represent the district on Beacon Hill.

“The challenges are huge, but it’s an incredible time to be able to shape things for our future in really, really important ways,” she said.

Staff writer Erin Nolan can be reached at 978-338-2534, by email at enolan@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @erin_nolan_.

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