Mary-Ellen Manning kicked off her campaign Thursday night before a modest crowd of about 60 supporters at the in Downtown Peabody.
Manning, excited from the early weeks of the campaign, first spoke of Peabody Sen. Fred Berry, who she is hoping to succeed. and represents Peabody, Salem, Beverly, Danvers and Topsfield.
Manning said Berry, who has represented the district for 30 years, will leave a “huge void” once he retires “that only he can fill.” What she hopes to do, however, is continue some tenets of “good government” in his stead, such as integrity and transparency.
“I’ve established myself as a person you can count on to do what’s right,” Manning said, adding that she puts the public’s best interests over any private interests.
Manning, 49, briefly recounted her roots as a “North Shore girl” – she was born in Danvers, grew up in Peabody and went through the city’s schools, and worked her way through high school, college and law school.
She graduated from Brandeis University and then Northeastern University School of Law, opening her own private practice a few years later in 1994. She recently moved back to Peabody from Salem.
“I am in this struggle with you,” Manning said, pointing to a “battle” reaching across the district and the entire state over quality of life issues, and one in which she believes is becoming very politically polarized.
“We need to bring both parties back to the middle,” she said, both so that the middle class is not overburdened and those who don’t have the means to pull themselves along are not forgotten. “We have to make life better for everyone.”
Manning touched briefly on her 11 years on the Governor’s Council, which rules on judicial nominees and appointments in the state by the governor. In fact, Berry as Senate President that year, presided over Manning’s initial induction into office.
A slideshow put together for the campaign event Thursday included a quote from Berry that was published in the Lynn Item in 2001.
Berry was quoted as saying of Manning: “She’s a street savvy politician who can relate to the common folk and we need that kind of insight.”
At this early date in the race, however, Berry has not endorsed any candidates to succeed him.
Manning represents the Fifth District on the council – all of Essex County along with Dracut, Tewksbury, Wilmington, North Reading and part of Melrose. She regularly points to the fact that she is the only candidate in that has represented all five communities before.
She said on Thursday that she has also fought for important reforms on the Governor’s Council, such as barring last minute political donations to state officials.
“It’s the only seat in 11 years I’ve run for…because I thought I could make a difference and I believe I did,” she said. “And that’s why I’m running for this seat.”
Manning said the district’s next senator needs to “gather up the five towns and propel them into a better quality of life.”
Among the supporters Thursday were Manning’s friends and family, including her younger sister city councilor Anne Manning-Martin who led off the speaking portion of the evening.
A handful of other elected officials were also present: School Committee member Jarrod Hochman, Light Commissioner Tom D’Amato, Salem city councilor Paul Prevey and fellow Governor’s Councilor Terrence Kennedy. Manning-Martin also introduced family friend and Gloucester resident Eileen Duff who is now running for Manning’s seat on the Governor’s Council.
Manning publicly announced she was