Who will be the Next Chief of Staff

Mayor Judith Flanagan-Kennedy

The big question swirling around the offices at city hall is this: who will the mayor appoint to succeed Claire Cavanaugh, her able chief of staff?

Cavanaugh leaves on June 4 and her desk and office will be empty, as the mayor has yet to appoint a replacement for her.

Cavanaugh has held a unique position as chief of staff at city hall under Mayor Judith Flanagan-Kennedy. For all intents and purposes, Cavanaugh has been acting as the de facto mayor, that is, doing everything the mayor should be doing and acting on her behalf when she is late, half-hearted or not there at all.

Finding an appropriate replacement for such an able chief of staff is a near impossibility in the Lynn city hall of today.

Flanagan-Kennedy’s predecessor Chip Clancy had as his chief of staff the very able Jamie Marsh. Marsh remains at city hall in a major development position. However, had things been slightly different, he would be a perfect chief of staff for the mayor.


Because Marsh knows the job, the city, and city hall. He knows all the players and has generally good relationships with everyone he deals with. In other words, Jamie Marsh would make a great chief of staff for Mayor Flanagan-Kennedy but she isn’t about to ask him and he won’t want to move from his present position. After all, the job doesn’t lead to much of an afterlife these days.

Then there is the mayor herself, stepping to the tune of her own inner voice, and seemingly complacent about finding a replacement for Cavanaugh.

“I may not fill the position at all,” the mayor apparently told a close associate recently.

If she takes that route, it saves the city a cool $100,000 salary plus all the fixings.

By not filling that position, she could conceivably cut property taxes by $1 this year.

Another close associate was allegedly told by the mayor that she is considering the appointment of Charlie O’Brien or David Ellis – both former councilors who know the city very well.

I believe this is unlikely. Both O’Brien and Ellis have been out of city government for too long and neither has the disposition or the all around administrative capabilities that Cavanaugh brought to the table.

Yet another of the mayor’s colleagues said she is going to treat the position the way the Red Sox use relief pitchers during close games.

“I’m going to run that position the way the Red Sox run their bullpen,” the mayor is believed to have said.

She implied that many relievers who are good constitute a good team.

Whatever she chooses to do, the mayor is going to miss Cavanaugh who leaves this week.

Cavanaugh will have the mayor’s best wishes, but you can be sure the mayor would rather that Cavanaugh was not leaving.

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