Through much of the mayoral campaign in Methuen, those who supported Jen Kannan and indeed Jen herself tried to make the election about the fact that former mayor Sharon Pollard was supporting Neil Perry. Her name was thrown around by the Kannan supporters as if Pollard was some kind of puppet master and that she was going to control Neil Perry if he won.
We caught up to Pollard on election night after the votes were counted and asked her about it.
Since most of this campaign seemed to be about you and nobody has asked you what you think about all this, I thought I would ask. What DO you think about it?
“Yeah isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard? The difficulty with a race like this is that it was so negative, and destructive on many levels because the Kannan Campaign didn’t talk about the people of the city.”
“They didn’t offer anything positive or talk about her agenda for the city. Instead, her supporters made the determination that they were going to talk about Neil‘s workers and backers. It was a failed strategy from the start and I often wondered why they did it, because it really didn’t make any sense. I think that has borne fruit that it was a failed strategy if you look at the numbers.”
“You never do that. You talk about an agenda that you have for the city and what’s good about you and your candidacy and what you have to offer. You never go negative. Maybe sometimes with your opponent’s positions and issues you want to disagree with them, but you never go negative about people’s supporters and workers. I think it’s just fairly bizarre that that is the road that they went down.”
“I know this city. I was born here and lived here my whole life. I love what happens here. I try to make a positive impact in many ways to help the city out and help the people who live and work here. I’m not so sure it was a good idea for them to start picking on people who are only campaign supporters.”
I asked her now that it is over, if Neil Perry is going to be her puppet and if she has any strings behind his back.
“Neil is a person with an agenda for the city and has a very strong personality. He has good concepts and ideas about what he wants to do in the city and people really gravitated toward that. All we did, the people who helped him, was try to give him some advice, some wisdom, help him think through some of the things that were important to him so that he could make this a good election and have an impact.”
So, you are not going to be the de facto mayor behind the curtain making all the real decisions?
“No. Absolutely not. I had my time. People have been asking me ever since I left office, ‘why don’t you run again’? and I have always said ‘no this is not for me. I did my time.’”
“This was a good race [on the Perry side] and it was nice to see some people being very positive about the people they were supporting and encouraging them to run a nice campaign and talk about what was important to the city. That was what was missing on the other side of this mayor’s race.”
“There was no dialogue on the other side about what was important to them and what people wanted to do for the City of Methuen. So, when you have an agenda for the city and you can speak positively about the city and you stay on the positive side, that message always wins. Neil wanted to run a very positive campaign. So many of those who supported Mrs. Kannan weren’t doing that.
One of those people working for the other Campaign had asked me to hire their son and I was happy to do it, so it was disappointing to see that that was one of the people attacking me personally. That was pretty interesting.”
“Each of those people that I supported came to me and asked me for that support. They asked for financial help. They asked for my advice and I gave it to them.”
Are you excited about Allie Saffi winning in the West District for city council?
“Yes, very excited. I was 26 when I was sworn into the senate, and Allie is 26. She is a bright young woman who has great ideas and isn’t afraid to speak about them. And she wants to name names. I’m just thrilled for her as a woman helping a young woman to achieve great things. She’s going to be wonderful on the council. ◊