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October 27, 2013

'This is my time:' Kannan says she's approachable leader

(Continued)

Like voters, Kannan said city employees want an accessible leader. She said department heads will respond to her.

"They want to work with someone they can talk to," said Kannan. "I'm a motivator."

From her perspective on the council, Kannan said Zanni "can't separate personal versus professional." As a result, Kannan said the mayor has stunted progress in situations where councilors disagree with him.

"He thought he was the teacher and we were the students," said Kannan, describing Zanni's first two-year term in the mayor's office. "He shouldn't be speaking at us. He should be speaking to us."

Among the issues Kannan and Zanni haven't seen eye-to-eye on are the mayor's failed bids to privatize the municipal Information Technology department and the council's decision to drastically cut funding for the Health Division.

Kannan said she does not support IT privatization. In general, she has taken a more cautious approach to outsourcing than the mayor. Regarding the health issue, which left the city without a health director and prompted the state to pull back $214,000 in regional grant money, Kannan said she stands by her vote to cut the Health Division budget.

"I think the department has been running effectively since," said Kannan. "I've seen no change."

Throughout the campaign, Zanni and others have called to attention Kannan's family ties to the city payroll and questioned whether, as mayor, she will be able to negotiate union contracts without violating conflict-of-interest and ethics laws.

Kannan's brother, Richard Aziz Jr., is a lieutenant with the Methuen Fire Department. Her son, Billy Kannan Jr., joined the police department as a full-time patrolman in 2012 after serving for several years as a reserve officer. Kannan’s daughter, Brittney Kannan, is a teacher’s aide at Marsh Grammar School. Kannan’s sister-in-law, Maria Becotte, works as a teacher at the Marsh. Her father is also a retired Methuen fire lieutenant.

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