Salem News: City Council presidency at stake in at-large race

With only three incumbent candidates for three positions, the city councilor-at-large race in Beverly might not look like a race at all.

But thanks to a rule that is unique to Beverly, voters will actually be facing a key decision when they mark their ballots — whether they know it or not.

Beverly is the only municipality in the state that grants the position of City Council president to the top vote-getter among the at-large councilors. In every other community, the councilors themselves elect a president after they are sworn in, or voters choose a council president in a separate election.

All three of the incumbents running for reelection — Julie Flowers, Hannah Bowen and Brendan Sweeney — said they are not making a point of running for council president, and are not asking voters to not vote for someone else.

The charter review committee, in a report issued in February, said the current system “has served the city well.”

Bowen, who served on the charter review committee, said she likes the existing method because it creates a “sort of parity” between the council president and the mayor in terms of being a top vote-getter across the city, which she said is important in a system of government that gives a lot of power to the mayor.

“Having the person who’s in that role (of council president) having the same backing behind them citywide is a real strength,” she said.

Read the full story from The Salem News here.