DANVERS — She’s back.
After a 23-year absence from the state political scene, Danvers resident Sally Kerans has thrown her hat back into the ring. She is running to succeed longtime state Rep. Ted Speliotis, who is retiring in January, as state representative for the the13th Essex District. The election is Nov. 3.
Kerans said she wasn’t really looking to challenge Speliotis, but when she learned he had chosen not to run, she saw her chance — and took it.
“With COVID and what we are going through, it struck me that this was the exact same situation I was in when I first ran in 1990,” Kerans said. “No sooner than I was sworn in back then, we had a deep fiscal crisis on our hands. We had to use a three-prong approach to solving it and restore economic stability — cuts, revenue enhancement and use of the rainy-day funds. It was so similar to what’s happening today in our state, where federal assistance is absolutely critical and, unfortunately, we do not have a functioning federal government under this president.
“We are never going to get back to a strong economy without solving the pandemic,” she said.
Kerans said her decision to stay out of state politics until now was based on a couple of things. First, she wanted to be able to be hands-on when it came to raising her children (Nora, now 25, and Peter, 21) with husband Michael Whouley; and second, she knew she could be equally, if not more, effective at the local level
“When you are young, you have nothing but time, but my focus shifted once I had a family, especially since my husband did a lot of traveling,” she said. “I was able to stay active locally, helping people with getting elected, freelancing for the Danvers Herald, working with community groups and charities, things all geared to helping people get what they need. Not all things begin at the State House.”
A University of Massachusetts-Amherst graduate, where she majored in political science, Kerans served three consecutive terms (1991-1997) as 13th District representative before deciding not to run in 1996. While in office, she served on numerous House committees, including Ways and Means, Taxation, Human Services and Elderly Affairs, and Health Care and Insurance.
She feels her experience in the House makes her the best candidate to serve the district, but it’s her experience and continued community involvement in Danvers and Peabody that truly sets her apart from the other four candidates — Peabody Republican Robert May and Danvers independents Bill Bates, Christopher Keohane, and Jason Guida.
The 13th District includes Danvers, parts of Middleton and parts of Peabody.
“It’s through local involvement, especially serving on the Danvers Finance Committee and other community initiatives, that you really come to appreciate how much happens at the local level in terms of seeing what’s happening with your state dollars,” she said. “In Danvers, everything that goes before the Town Meeting first goes to the Finance Committee, so I knew that was how I can be helpful.”
Kerans believes that change is the only way the country can pull together, end divisiveness and rebuild the economy.
“If you elect the right people, the right things happen,” she said. “What’s happening now is about public health, not people, like opponents Bob May and Chris Keohane, who feel their freedoms are being wrongly taken away. This is about shared sacrifice, this is our generation’s World War II, and if the wrong people are elected, we will not have a functioning federal government that can partner with states and families to help communities. What is happening right now with unemployment and sickness and everything else simply is not sustainable.
“My opponents want more of the same, and, absent federal leadership, we’ll just continue on the same destructive path playing whack-a-mole instead of hunkering down and beating this virus. This economy is not getting stronger until we get our arms around this thing.”
Kerans said she feels she will make a difference in setting strategies and policies at the state level that will have an immediate impact, not only the communities she represents, but across the state.
“Part of an effective response to COVID is to get essential aid and keep projects like infrastructure and school improvements going to help reduce unemployment,” Kerans said. “If everything grinds to a halt, there can be no economic recovery, let alone stability. Success begets success.
“Now, more than ever, we need an effective state representative who can go to work immediately to be part of an effective response to this crisis and advocate for the people of Danvers, Peabody and Middleton. That’s why I’m running.”