EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 13, 2013

Campaign Notebook

Attack flier fallout

METHUEN — Mayor Stephen Zanni has returned a $500 campaign donation from Laborers International Local 175, after the union distributed attack fliers targeting mayoral challenger Jennifer Kannan at a recent high-profile political event.

Local 175 represents about 75 Public Works employees and 10 School IT workers in Methuen. Union members handed the fliers out to a sellout crowd Oct. 5 at the Methuen Senior Center for the annual pancake breakfast hosted by the Methuen Democratic City Committee.

One flier suggested Kannan was “voted most likely to succeed in Methuen politics” without a high school diploma. Another highlighted her family ties to the city payroll, and a third suggested she was influenced by Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua while voting on the city solicitor issue earlier this year.

Zanni sent Local 175 Business Manager Michael Gagliardi the following letter on Tuesday:

“I was greatly disturbed to find that your organization has been distributing flyers and placing advertisements which levy personal attacks on mayoral candidate Jennifer Kannan. These attacks are unwarranted, and I find them reprehensible. While national politics has taken on a tone of unproductive name-calling, I know that here in Methuen our residents expect — and deserve — more.

I understand that you and my opponent have had differences in the past. However, Jennifer Kannan is a good person who has long been involved in our community. The attacks on Ms. Kannan are shameful, made all the more so as they discourage countless other residents from getting involved in our local government.

I have always taken great pride in the positive campaigns I have run as a public official. Smearing my opponent has never been my style, and I expect my supporters to conduct themselves with the same level of respect and decency. That your organization has resorted to such tactics is beyond disappointing. In light of these circumstances, I cannot in good conscious keep the financial contributions you made to my campaign. Enclosed are said funds.”

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