PEABODY — "The issues of the ward are the issues of the city," says Ward 2 Councilor Peter McGinn.
Residents are concerned about keeping the city affordable and taxes low; maintaining quality services; and preventing over-development, the same as in other parts of Peabody, said McGinn, who is running for a fourth term on the City Council.
His challenger, Jaclyn Corriveau, who unsuccessfully ran for state representative in 2016, says a quality of life issue she hears about repeatedly while out knocking on doors is trash, especially in the neighborhoods off Washington Street toward the Salem line. And with the trash, are rodents.
McGinn, 56, agrees it's a problem, and says the trash and rats have become intertwined issues he's been trying to work on for the past year, in regard to how businesses dispose of trash, as well as exploring options for residents to have standardized, covered trash bins.
"There is a huge rat issue," Corriveau, 28, said. "People are having to take care of it themselves, again with no response from the councilor.
"He doesn't come. He doesn't investigate. He is completely non-engaging," she said. "After talking to people about that, it was very, very disappointing to see that people have to literally deal with trash in the streets themselves, with no representative or advocate to help advocate for their quality of life."
She said McGinn was providing "absentee leadership" by not returning calls.
McGinn, on the other hand, said he knows "it's a significant issue across the city" and "it is absolutely something I hear frequently about from residents of Ward 2. It's something that we absolutely need to do."
He said steps he's taken to address this issue include supporting an ordinance that passed earlier this year calling for integrated pest management plans for restaurants and other businesses, as well as developers who are excavating a site.
"I made that motion in July to advance that and that ordinance has been adopted," said McGinn, adding that he met with department heads to review the implementation of the ordinance.
One solution to lessen rats in the city, he said, would be to supply residents with standardized barrels with tightly-sealed covers that can be picked up by trash trucks, but there are issues with this.
"The expense of moving to standardized containers is significant," said McGinn, who has met with city health officials, the city's waste hauler, JRM, the mayor's office, and officials from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to understand the details of such a program. More will be discussed about this early next year, he said.
Flooding also continues to be a perennial concern for Peabody Square and the downtown.
Corriveau, whose job for Salem Five Mortgage deals with flood insurance, said she is not hearing concerns about flooding from residents, but rather from commercial constituents.
"They get wiped out," said Corriveau, who suggested flood insurance for those who own or rent downtown. She said she is not up to speed on everything that has been done to mitigate flooding, but one thing the city could do is brainstorm with other cities and towns.
"What I would like to see done is them get in contact with other municipalities who have struggled with the issue and just take a hands-on approach and say what works, what doesn't work," she said.
"Flood mitigation is always top of mind for me in terms of anything that comes before the council," McGinn said. Streams in the city flow toward the downtown, so development elsewhere has the potential to impact flooding. It's also a chance to create flood storage upstream, he said.
The construction of an upstream retention basin on Scouting Way has been effective at holding back millions of gallons of water, he said, and the city has done a better job of cleaning and maintaining detention basins at Centennial Park, while also creating flood storage at the East End Veterans Memorial Park on Walnut Street. McGinn has pushed for a program to clean rivers and culverts each year, but there continues to be flood-prone areas throughout the ward.
"These risks are only going to increase over time as a function of climate change," he said.
Corriveau acknowledges that the city is addressing flooding and the rat issue, but says that McGinn has failed to be responsive to residents' calls on the trash and rodent problems.
"If you don't have that person that is sitting in that office conveying that information reliably, and returning those phone calls, how is anybody is supposed to know what's going on?" she asked.
Address: 8 Park St.
Family: Wife Jeanette; children, Anna, 27, Morris, 26, Daniel, 23, and Lydia, 19
Education: University of Vermont, bachelor of science in management engineering; University of Massachusetts Lowell, masters of management science in manufacturing engineering
Occupation: Director of global business operations, Avnet Inc.
Prior elected office: City Council, Ward 2, 2014-present
Community service: Community Preservation Committee; Peabody Main Streets board member and design committee co-chairperson; member of the Friends of the Black Box Theater; St. John the Baptist Parish Finance Council, co-chairperson; Peabody Centennial Parade Committee, co-chairperson; Peabody Historical Society member; Boy Scouts of America Troop 119, committee member and past chairperson; Ward 2 Peabody Democratic Committee
Address: 56 Lynn St.
Family: Father, Peter; two dogs, Lola and Flynn
Occupation: Supervisor in escrow department at Salem Five Mortgage
Education: Graduated from Simmons University in 2013 with a degree in political science; working toward an MBA through Ohio University
Prior elected office: None
Community service: Governor's Advisory Council on Refugees and Immigrants