ITEM FILE PHOTO
Lynn City Councilor Daniel Cahill.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — After serving on the City Council for nearly a decade, Daniel Cahill will call it quits at year’s end.
The 38-year-old councilor who was elected to the Legislature last fall and works as an attorney, said it’s time for someone new to join the 11-member panel.
“I loved being on the council,” he said. “But having three jobs became a little bit much. It’s right for me to step down and focus on the Legislature. It’s hard to do both.”
But not everyone understands his need to relieve the pressure of being a citywide councilor, enduring a demanding courtroom schedule, being a member of the Democratic majority on Beacon Hill and raising two young children.
“My wife wants me to stay on the council,” said Cahill. Angela Cahill is a sixth grade teacher at the Thurgood Marshall Middle School. “She’s a resident too and likes what I bring to the table.”
Cahill said he is proudest of being part of the city’s rezoning.
“It became apparent in order to create an environment where people want to invest in Lynn, we had to do the zoning,” he said. “There was coalition building with the Chamber of Commerce, developers, businesses and the neighborhood. It was lots of fun.”
Construction of the $67 million Thurgood Marshall Middle School is also a highlight of his tenure, as is a $4 million bond to refurbish parks and playgrounds, renovate City Hall and the addition of air conditioning to the Lynn Auditorium.
“In some jobs, you don’t get to see the product of your work, but on the council you do,” he said. “If a constituent has a problem with a sidewalk, a tree, or their utility company, we solve it.”
In 2003, while a 24-year-old graduate student in a master of political science program at Suffolk University, Cahill launched his first bid for office. He sought the School Committee post vacated by Loretta Cuffe O’Donnell.
“I always enjoyed politics since I was young and decided it was time to run for office. I just got the bug,” he said. “I was single and living with my parents. I gathered my friends, family and put a campaign together.”
But he wasn’t exactly sure how to do that. Cahill sent an email to the mayor’s chief of staff that read: “Hi, I’m Dan Cahill and I am thinking of running for office, how do I do it?”
“One of my first mailings featured a picture of me in my parents’ dining room with jeans and a suit top,” he said. “Instead of getting a shot of me from the waist up, you can clearly see a little of the jeans, it was funny.”
Despite the slow learning curve, the bid paid off. Cahill placed sixth and won by about 80 votes. He sought re-election two years later and scored a second term.
“School committee was a great place to learn things,” he said. “I learned about contracts, hiring, and budgets.”
In 2007, he saw an opportunity to run for councilor-at-large. He won and later served as council president.
Last year, the Northeastern University and Suffolk Law School graduate sought the legislative seat vacated by state Rep. Robert Fennell in the 10th Essex District. He ran unopposed.
“The Legislature was the most logical step for me to use my expertise as a municipal elected office and bring it to the state level,” he said. “Since college I wanted to be a state representative. It’s the best place to make change.”
More recently, he joined the Lynn law firm of Bradley Moore Primason Cuffe & Weber LLP.
Charles Gaeta, executive director of Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development, said he counts Cahill as one of his best friends.
“His strong work ethic and community involvement were modeled after his parents,” he said. “He will be missed on the Council. I’ve learned a lot from him. My staff routinely praise him for the many initiatives he’s helped on. It will be sad to see him go, but we are fortunate he will be at the State House.”
Frances Martinez, president and CEO of the North Shore Latino Business Association, said while Cahill will leave a void on the Council, he will be better able to perform his duties on Beacon Hill.
“It’s best for him to wear one hat and not two with that level of responsibility,” she said.
Several candidates have already pulled papers to run for the open seat including Taso Nikolakopoulos, owner of John’s Roast Beef & Seafood and Jaime Figueroa, a college student, who hopes to be the city’s first Latino councilor.
Thomas Grillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.