Greetings from the Garden City, once home to the Summer White House, Birthplace of the US NAVY (suck it Headers), site of the first cotton mill in the US, and home to 40,000+ residents.
The Beverly City Council is comprised of 6 ward councilors, and 3 at-large councilors. Unique in the state, the highest vote getter in the Beverly Councilor At-Large race automatically becomes the City Council President. Of these 9 seats, there are only two competitive races, for Ward 3 City Councilor, and for Ward 5.
Beverly rarely has contested races, and 2019 is no exception. 5 out of 6 school committee seats are uncontested (with 2 new candidates that will be elected in Wards 3 and Wards 5). The mayoral election is uncontested. All 3 At large seats are uncontested (or, there are only 3 candidates for the 3 seats, the City Council presidency IS up for vote). 4 out of 6 Ward races are uncontested.
This makes endorsements in contested races pretty easy.
CONTESTED SCHOOL COMMITTEE (endorsements in Bold):
For Ward 4 School Committee, the incumbent John Mullady (tl/dr ENDORSED) is running against Jeffery Silva. There is so much good to say about John’s tenure so far on the school committee, he researched and presented the Sanctuary declaration. He lobbied at the state level for the recently passed school funding bill. He has been (until now, another teacher is running in Ward 5) the only professional educator on the School committee for some time.
Let’s turn to today’s (10/30/2019) Salem News coverage of the debate last night, to understand the difference between these two candidates, in their own words:
“Mullady said he decided to run for School Committee after seeing the impact of budget decisions made by “people outside of education.”
“I felt I would use my experience in the classroom,” he said. “I know the consequences of cutting a budget for the sake of meeting the bottom line.”
“Education is my passion,” Mullady added. “I made a lot of sacrifices for myself and my family to pursue a career in education. I don’t have a personal agenda that I’m trying to push. I’m trying to work with all the other (School Committee) members and I’d like to keep that going.”
Silva said he is running because he discovered that he enjoyed volunteer working through his experiences as a coach in youth soccer and lacrosse. He also said he has served as a role model working with high school and college interns at his company.”
Contested City Council
Ward 3 City Councilor:
The seat has finally been vacated by long time councilor, generally good guy, and Salem resident, Jim Latter.
Ward 3 is at the heart of the city, and includes the Cummings Center, both the Middle School AND the High School, and Beverly Hospital.
Kris Silverstein, who currently serves as the school committee representative from Ward 3, and as the School Committee Chair, is running for the seat against business owner, and active community member, Stacy Ames (TL/DR ENDORSED). Ames is new to politics, but not new to city engagement, and her primary results speak to how much effort she HAS put into this election, and how hard she is willing to work for the residents of Ward 3. Given that Kris has served as an elected official for this ward for over a decade, her primary results between the 2 precincts say an awful lot about how residents in the entirety of the ward feel about her service. Ames won the primary (with 4 candidates) with 227 of the 598 votes cast. In precinct 1, Ames received 115, to Silverstein’s 31 votes. Silverstein won precinct 2 by 60 votes, but, she LOST precinct 1 by 84 votes to Ames (and, notably, but 10 votes to perennial candidate for everything, Rick Marciano*).
Kris oversaw a controversial and disappointing Superintendent search (NOT because of the eventual hire, but because it was poorly run, and gave only lip service to transparency, which was revealed through a freedom of information act cache of communications sought by a parent who was deeply troubled by the process). That same cache revealed how often she acquiesced to requests from the Mayor (who, HAS a VOTING SEAT on the School Committee). Beverly, in addition to having the lowest spending per pupil in our area for our schools, is also in the very small percentage of communities in the Commonwealth that charges a fee for Full Day Kindergarten. There has been regular, widespread community advocacy to eliminate this fee, and, with annual city budget surpluses in the millions, to increase funding to our schools. Communications show that the Mayor asked Kris NOT to allow a vote on eliminating the Kindergarten fee. Communications show, despite the advocacy efforts of dozens of parents who spoke at a School Committee Meeting, Silverstein honoring the Mayor’s request that she not the city council to consider the need for more funding in the city budget in the schools, going so far as to personally write each with that request.
Silverstein is running as “an independent” voice, but we believe her record has not shown that. The educational outcomes of kids in Ward 3 are different than the educational outcomes of kids in our wealthier wards, and, as School Committee Chair and longest serving member, she has not demonstrated a skill set in advocating well or standing up for her youngest constituents. There is little to suggest she would or could do so for the rest.
Ward 5 City Council:
Ward 5 City Councilor.: Incumbent Don Martin vs Kathleen Feldman (TL/DR ENDORSED). Fun fact. Councilor Martin cannot be reached via email, or phone, per the city website! He is also a conservative who voted to reject protections for trans citizens in Beverly. We feel he pushes traffic-generating retail commercial development harder than housing – and we’re housing fans here. He is also not very energetic about solar power (hee hee).
Kathleen Feldman is a force to be reckoned with, a leader at the North Beverly PTO, she has made a point to knock on more doors this campaign cycle than Martin has in his many years of service.
This is pretty simple, do you vote for the guy who does not affirm equal civil rights for all citizens, and, CAN’T ACTUALLY BE REACHED; or the woman who will meet you for coffee tomorrow if you need her, and, if you need her, you can reach her RIGHT NOW?
City Councilor at Large:
As mentioned earlier, the top vote getter in this race will become the City Council President. 2 out of the 3 candidates HAVE served in this capacity before (Paul Guanci and Tim Flaherty). Flaherty voted against protecting the civil rights of transgender people in Beverly in a city council meeting prior to the state wide vote to rescind those rights (Ballot measure 3 in 2018, which, was soundly defeated). Guanci does not like to be called a Republican in local elections (which are officially non-partisan), but his Twitter feed shows that he isn’t a “Bill Weld” acceptable kind of Republican, he is a “Send the Squad back to their home countries” liking Republican. We can do better.
The Clam will be voting for Julie Flowers, seeking her second term, she has been a progressive voice on the city council and in her short tenure has advanced protections for trans people in Beverly, and, got the “bag ban” ordinance implemented. Given the unique nature of the Beverly City Council President race (and since all three candidates will be seated), we recommend ONLY voting for Julie (this is called “bullet voting”), and leaving the other two spots blank, OR writing in your favorite local volunteer.
Endorsed in uncontested races:
Ward One SC: Rachael Abel
Ward Two City Council: Estelle Rand
Ward Three School Committee: Kimberley J. Coelho
Ward 4 City Council: Scott Houseman
Ward 5 School Committee: Kaarin L. Robinson
Ward 6 School Committee : Lorinda Visnick
Races where we really can’t find anything decent to say about the uncontested incumbent, and recommend a write in, or, mobilizing around an opponent and printings stickers. Or starting to fundraise now for 2021:
Ward 2 School Committee
2 out of 3 At Large Seats