EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 18, 2013

Candidates clash in Methuen debates

METHUEN — In a wide-ranging debate, mayoral challenger Jennifer Kannan criticized Mayor Stephen Zanni last night for lacking “vision” to lead the city forward.

Zanni fired back, questioning why Kannan would run against him without offering specifics on what she would change if Kannan is elected mayor in the Nov. 5 municipal election.

Zanni and Kannan fielded questions last night at Merrimack Valley Golf Club in a forum moderated by Methuen Community Television. Also debating last night were four of the five candidates running for three councilor-at-large seats.

At one point in the mayoral debate, an audience member asked the candidates why he should vote for them.

“I feel we need positive change,” said Kannan. “There’s no vision here. I just want to work harder for the community.”

Zanni responded by saying that shortly after taking office in January 2012, he was able to get the once-stalled Methuen High School renovation and expansion back on schedule and on budget.

“It’s moving in the right direction,” said Zanni. “The project had stopped. It took me four months to get a new contractor and get the project back on track and on time.”

Later in the debate, Zanni told the audience that under his leadership, the high school project will be completed next year.

“Now is not the time to change (mayors) midstream,” said Zanni.

“It’s not up to him,” said Kannan in response. “It’s up to the people.”

The candidates were allowed to ask their opponent one question. Zanni took the opportunity to state that Kannan has yet to propose any specifics on what she would do differently than him, if elected.

“What reason do you have to run against me?” asked Zanni.

Kannan said she is running because there is a breakdown in communication between the mayor and City Council.

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