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Slattery: Building Consensus is Key to Get Things Done in Legislature

State Senate candidate John Slattery of Peabody spoke to supporters Sunday afternoon at an informal gathering in Danvers.

[Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect a correction. John Slattery did spend some of his childhood in Beverly, but later lived in Peabody and Saugus. He graduated from Saugus High School.]

says the key to getting anything accomplished on Beacon Hill is building consensus and making important legislation "palatable" to fellow lawmakers.

That's what Slattery, 53 and a candidate for state Senate in the 2nd Essex District, told a crowd of about 40 supporters in Danvers on Sunday. The informal afternoon meet and greet event was hosted by Democrat John Archer at his home.

Slattery had just come off a meeting with the Danvers Democratic Town Committee the day before as he ramps up his campaign efforts. He's also back in the political scene after a 10-year hiatus.

"I'm really excited about the campaign," Slattery said.

"You can't do anything by yourself, no matter what anyone tells you," Slattery said. "That's what I think the next senator has to do: go in and build consensus to get things done."

That's what eight years in the state legislature taught him and one aspect to the job -- consensus and communication -- that Fred Berry mastered in his three decades in office, according to Slattery.

The former Peabody city councilor and state representative is one of three candidates seeking to fill Berry's shoes in the Senate when .

The other two Democratic candidates vying to represent Peabody, Salem, Beverly, Danvers and Topsfield are of Peabody and .

Slattery said he successfully got a number of bills passed himself while on Beacon Hill, pointing to the state ban on assault weapons and an early teacher retirement bill, which had passed unanimously in the legislature but was amended by then Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci.

In addition to consensus on Beacon Hill, Slattery said, there also needs to be "shared responsibility" with local municipal leaders -- working closely with mayors, city councilors, selectmen, etc, to make sure they are all fighting for their communities' needs.

Slattery cited a few examples, such as the significant cost Danvers incurs for educating and busing homeless children housed in the town's motels.

Danvers is just one of several communities in Massachusetts in which the state contracts with local motels to house homeless families. And despite requiring the town to then provide school transportation -- in some cases back to the child's former district -- the state does not pick up any of that bill.

Slattery agreed the .

In Peabody, .

The city has been hashing out a comprehensive flood mitigation plan over the past six years that will keep the downtown open for business and safer for residents, but a major obstacle to progress is simply one of finances. Large federal and state grants aren't as plentiful as they once were, and Peabody just doesn't have $20 million to $30 million laying around.

Slattery said he has spoken with about flooding and knows it is a top priority.

Similarly, Slattery has spoken with Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and notes a key economic issue for the city is the -- it is one of Salem's top taxpayers.

Slattery spoke briefly on his reasons for being in the race and fielded questions from the room, on everything from public transportation to education and creating jobs at the local level.

Slattery said the latter two are linked together -- quality and access to good education in both high school and state-run colleges will turn out a better equipped workforce to provide small businesses with needed skills and innovation while also making new entrepreneurs who will in turn create new jobs.

He said Massachusetts has lost many of its manufacturing and construction jobs -- often higher-wage jobs that did not require bachelors' or masters' degrees -- and the absence has led to a greater degree of inequality in income for taxpayers. The situation subsequently hurts small businesses as well, he said.

Slattery argued the state is not committing the necessary resources now for education, particularly with community colleges, who are seeing greater numbers of students who did not get the quality education they should have in high school. He said the state should direct more of its discretionary budget dollars to education.

"We need to make sure the middle class has the skills, talents and training they need to be successful in business," he said.

At the heart of the solution, for Slattery, is education, which he said he came to fully appreciate through the influence of his wife's family. Slattery said that growing up, he managed through high school, but faced with four children to provide for as a single parent after his father died, his mother did not place a great focus on education. She herself had dropped out of high school.

But after meeting his future wife Nancy and getting married, he said, education was important to her family and it "rubbed off on him," which he in turn hoped to instill in their three children. He added that he worked his way through college and law school with a furniture moving company.

"I'm very susceptible and aware of the difference education can make in people's lives," he said.

On public transportation, Slattery said, he wants to continue working on the Blue Line project, which will bring the subway to Lynn, but further extend service into Peabody. Infrastructure is key in Peabody, which in turn is a gateway to neighboring communities, including Salem, he said.

Salem, which is a "tourism mecca," has to deal with a lot of traffic because of that and thus needs more public transit options, he said.

Slattery also said the region should continue to invest in the healthcare industry, building on to a complement of top-notch medical facilities. He hopes to see the North Shore become a "hospital mecca."

Among the supporters gathered Sunday were Peabody state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis and former Beverly Rep. and city councilor Michael Cahill. Spiliotis succeeded Slattery in the House when he decided to run for Lt. Governor in 2002, and Cahill served with Slattery for several years in the House until he also decided to run for statewide office in 2002, taking a run at state Treasurer.

John Slattery March 19, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Mr. Castellucci, Thank you for covering the meet and greet at John Archer's home. I note only that I did not say that I grew up in Beverly. I spent the early years of my childhood in Beverly and have cousins who grew up there, but spent the later years of my life in both Peabody and Saugus, graduating from Saugus High. I just wanted to set the record straight.
John Castelluccio (Editor) March 19, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Thanks, John. Sorry about that. We'll make a correction.
bogey251 March 19, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Is John Archer still pushing for the release of convicted rapist Ben Laguer after his DNA tests proved he was guilty, and do you still oppose the death penalty for child rapists/murderers like Charles Jaynes and Sal Sicari? I find your sympathy for criminals troublesome and believe that has cost you lost your last few elections.
Peabody Native March 19, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I could not vote for John Slattery after the way he flip flopped his vote on the death penalty which spared the lives of the child kidnappers/molesters/murderers from Cambridge. How are we to trust this man's opinion on anything ???????
bogey251 March 19, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Why was my comment removed???? You have my email, please advise me.
John Castelluccio (Editor) March 19, 2012 at 11:47 PM
bogey251, it looks like your original comment was knocked off because enough people flagged it. It was not intentionally removed by anyone at Patch. My only comment to you would be to abide by the acceptable use policy for the site and please use your real name when commenting or otherwise interacting here.
bogey251 March 19, 2012 at 11:56 PM
John Archer's ongoing support for unrepentant rapist Ben LaGuer is well reported and publicized. LaGuer fought for and received a DNA test and it confirmed his guilt. Slattery's tie breaking change of vote killed the death penalty initiative that the public strongly supported when jaynes and Sicari raped and murdered the Curley boy. I think it is fair to question where Slattery stands on violent crime based on these facts. I understand that defense lawyers represent child predators. WE need a state senator who will represent US.
Mike Schulze March 22, 2012 at 01:56 AM
It seems you have a problem! You are saying Slattery and John Archer are responsible,because they are defense lawyers?I hope you never need one.Who are you voting for?
bogey251 March 22, 2012 at 01:26 PM
@Mike. The FIRST order of government is to provide for public safety. I have to oppose someone who has their priorities slanted to criminals instead of public safety and the needs of victims.
Mike Schulze March 22, 2012 at 05:59 PM
bogey251, The judicial system of our government provides for all sides to be represented,this way the mobs who listen to the talking heads can not lynch people who perceive someone guilty. When a person who is found guilty is sent to jail for the rest of their life ,never to get out,preferably at hard labor,we have justice.It doe's not bring back the innocent life taken by some pervert. It also will not prevent some sicko from doing it again,Neither does the death penalty.Check the stats in Florida and Texas! John Slattery made a very courageous vote , having run as a supporter of the death penalty and after listening to all sides,he made a vote of conscience . He and his family received death threats for weeks.Was that right?Name one CIVILIZED country that has it! I for one do not want the government in the business of taking lives.Lock them up with the rest of the nutbags and give them a cyanide pill,only 1.Do not let them out! Unless later they are proven innocent.Which does happen!!! You have a right to support anyone you choose,as do I,but let's keep it fair and not accuse someone of something so outlandish.The vote has not been brought up again because it could not pass.Life without parole has been installed and many of the people who have been incarcerated with it are gone!!
bogey251 March 22, 2012 at 09:20 PM
The problem in Liberal massachusetts is "life without parole" is NOT life without parole. Just ask the family of Police Officer John Maguire, who was killed by Dominic Cinelli, (Who was doing THREE life sentences). There are other examples also. I won't change your mind, nor will you change mine. I will never vote for anyone who I believe is soft on violent crime. It is an important issue for me.
Mike Schulze March 23, 2012 at 01:46 AM
The scumbag that killed John Maguire was not sentenced to the Life without parole! He was sentenced under the old system!!!! I know I can not change your valuable opinion.Vote for Santorum. Those liberals are all out killing people,and the good conservatives are out saving their lives!Remember this conversation was about your blaming 2 people for crimes committed by others.Vote!!!! Your candidate will be here soon. I will vote my mind as a wacked out liberal out to take all your hard earned money and health care! Dont forget baby killer also, More conservatives should run.There is a Scott Brown add under the comment box.
bogey251 March 23, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Good to know that the new liberal system is better than the old liberal system. And where did I "blame two people for crimes committed by others". I pointed out that the individual who threw a party for Slattery is the chairman of the committee that wants to free a convicted and unrepentant rapist, (Benjamin LaGuer), who was proven guilty by a DNA test he demanded. If this is a secret, why does he have a website and testify publicly an LaGuer's behalf? And John Slattery's waffling on the death penalty is the issue. Everyone knows it was Jaynes and Sicari who raped and killed the little boy. People should remember that come election time.
Mike Schulze March 23, 2012 at 01:40 PM
OK,Thanks bogey251, Last post: We both have had our say. Hope you have a great summer!Work hard for your choice and i will work for mine.Just remember VOTE!
bogey251 March 23, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Thank you for the discussion Mike. And to the Patch for hosting it.
Bob Croce March 23, 2012 at 04:26 PM
This is what I like about Mike. He's very clear on his opinions, but at the end of the day, he gets it when he says: OK "work hard for your choice and I will work for mine.J ust remember VOTE!" Isn't this what makes America great! If anyone wants to keep the discussing going on this, we've posted a place to comment on the "You Make The Call" Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/calldickandbob. Please like our page and join in on the conversation.
Mike Schulze March 23, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Thanks Bob, I do not use facebook! Enjoy your show with Dick and callers.I have satellite tv so I can not watch it. Behave! Mike

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