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Turco tops primary for Ward 1 Councilor; Barrett second

29 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

turcoJust a quick post tonight to let everyone know that Jon Turco beat Brian Barrett by 26 votes today to top the ticket in the primary for Ward 1 Peabody City Councilor.

Ann Quinn placed third.

Turco and Barrett will now square off in the final election on Nov. 3rd for the seat left vacant by Barry Osborne.

Run Tom, run: Peabody needs Walsh on Beacon Hill

29 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

If you know him, call him. If you see him on the street, encourage him.

Tom Walsh for State Rep

Tom Walsh for State Rep

Peabody needs Councilor At-Large Tom Walsh to run in the soon-to-be-announced special election for State Rep in the 12th Essex District.

Since the passing of Joyce Spiliotis three years ago, Peabody has struggled when it comes to getting the assistance and resources it needs from the State Legislature. But Tom Walsh would not be a back-bencher. He would not quit in mid-term. He would give Peabody what it needs in the Great and General Court:

A mature adult, who would command respect from the leadership on Beacon Hill, and use his experience and intelligence as an elected official to help Peabody get the local aid it needs, and constituents get the help and services they desire.

No offense to announced Republican candidate Jaclyn Corriveau, who I feel is smart and has a bright political future in Peabody, but Walsh has way more experience and would be way more effective at this stage on Beacon Hill.

No thanks to announced Republican candidate Stephanie Peach, the former aide to Rep Leah Cole. Cole is causing Peabody to go without representation in the House for the next six months, and is costing taxpayers the price of yet another special election. Cole quits at mid-term and her aide Peach takes over? Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice . . .

And no way to perennial State Rep candidate Jim Moutsoulas. Hey Demo, how about concentrating on doing the job of Ward 3 Councilor a few more years, and then calling it career.

Tom Walsh, Peabody’s former State Rep, who then did an outstanding job as a school committee member, and now Councilor At-Large is what Peabody needs.

He has the experience, and he’s a responsible adult.  He gets it. Like the late-great Spiliotis, he knows what is required to give Peabody the representation it needs now more than ever.

So … call him, encourage him. Tell Tom Walsh that we need him on Beacon Hill.

Republicans ‘pulling the chute’ when it comes to State Rep special election

22 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Yesterday we learned that Leah Cole would give her employers – the taxpayers of Peabody – just one week’s notice while quitting her job as State Rep.

It appears that Peabody's Republicans will be flying this flag in the upcoming State Rep special election

It appears that Peabody’s Republicans will be flying this flag in the upcoming State Rep special election

And today, we hear that her friends in the city’s Republican Party won’t put up much of a fight when it comes to allowing the seat Cole is abandoning at mid-term to turn blue again.

On Monday, Ipswich State Rep and Mass GOP leader Brad Hill said in the local dying daily newspaper that his party would have a “viable candidate” for the seat once held by legendary Democrat Rep Joyce Spiliotis.

But after hearing about what came out of the Peabody Republican City Committee’s “emergency meeting” last night, it makes me wonder if Hill had been misquoted by a reporter who has a reputation for getting things wrong.

After all, it appears that Peabody City Republicans have – like Ms. Cole – pulled the chute.

They’re giving up by backing two totally unknown candidates to defend the seat won in fluke-like style three years ago after city Democrats “ate their own candidates.”

It’s always great to see young people get involved in politics, but after an undistinguished three years at the State House by one twentysomething rep, I’m not sure Peabody voters have the stomach to let another one take her place. But that’s what the Republicans are selling while looking forward to a primary “showdown” between a couple of pretty much unknown young women named Stephanie Peach and Jaclyn Corriveau.

But it’s not only Peach and Corriveau’s lack of experience, and clearly I’d rather have one of them in office than some of Peabody’s current elected officials. It’s more a case that neither has ANY all-important name recognition, which brings me to this point:

Where is newly minted Republican Anne Manning-Martin?

Ms. Corriveau joining the race means that the Peabody City Councilor won’t run now for the seat being deserted by Cole. After all, Anne is Jaclyn’s friend and political mentor. Corriveau is Manning-Martin’s campaign manager.

Peach, meanwhile, has been serving as Leah Cole’s aide on Beacon Hill.

Barring Dave Gravel or anyone else jumping into the fray as a “third-party” candidate, the Democrats are likely to easily take back this seat in the soon-to-be-announced special election.

If popular City Councilor Tom Gould wants to be state rep, he can have the seat by just bringing back the required signatures on his nomination papers. Gould vs. Peach or Corriveau? That would be like the Patriots playing Peabody High.

City Councilor Tom Walsh would win in a romp too over Ms. Peach or Ms. Corriveau. So too would Beverley Dunne, who would have beaten Cole handily three years ago if Gravel didn’t split her vote.

It’s clear that the Peabody Republicans have decided to not field a competitive candidate, which leaves us continue wondering why Ms. Manning-Martin changed her D to an R.

Cole leaves Peabody voters perplexed over why she can’t finish the job

21 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

If it turns out that there is a personal or family issue for why Leah Cole — in a New York Minute – is resigning her State Rep seat, and leaving Peabody without a voice on Beacon Hill for the next several months, then I will offer a full and public apology to her for what I’m about to write.

Leah Cole: Waving goodbye this time to Peabody's Voters

Leah Cole: Waving goodbye this time to Peabody’s Voters

Look, I thoroughly respect the work done by nurses, physicians and all other healthcare providers. But is Obamacare such a disaster that Ms. Cole needs to immediately abandon her responsibilities to the residents of Peabody, and even worse, run out on those who believed in her enough to elect her to a second full term in the Great and General Court?

Unless there is another more personal reason I discover — which causes me to grovel for forgiveness — her resigning mid-term to focus on a nursing career and education all seems somewhat unprofessional, and maybe even a little bit immature.

Doesn’t it?

In addition to the obligation she had to Peabody and her always “enthusiastic” supporters, Ms. Cole has also left the Mass GOP crying in its beer (no doubt it’s Bud or Coors, though, since we all know that they’re not cool craft beer drinkers.)

When Cole, then 24, upset Beverley Dunne and Dave Gravel three years ago in a special election to replace the late, great Joyce Spiliotis, the stumbling and bumbling Mass GOP was the unlikely winner of a seat in the usually Democratic 12th Essex District.

Now, thanks to this almost-October surprised by Ms. Cole, the Republican chances of keeping this seat in a soon-to-be-announced special election are about as good as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ chances of beating the Patriots in Foxboro on Sunday.

I mean, let’s prove my point by looking at the potential field of prospects and suspects.

At the head of the pack, you have newly minted GOPer Anne Manning-Martin, a long-time Peabody Councilor At-Large.  She would be competitive, but at the end of the day, she’d have a tough time beating fellow at-larger Tom Gould, or even former rep John Slattery, who might just want to come out of “retirement” for this one. Not sure Anne could beat Dunne either.

After Anne, there’s no one else who could even come close to being competitive on the Republican side. You have Greg Bunn, who would be a terrific state rep, but – unless we have another Democrat masquerading as an independent in the special election — Greg just doesn’t have the Peabody roots nor the name recognition to beat anyone who would run with the D.

After that . . . there is no Peabody Republican that I know of who could “shock” the world as Ms. Cole did three years ago.

Essentially, barring an electoral miracle, the Mass GOP, “the gang that can’t seem to shoot straight” when it comes to electing people to our “wonderful” state legislature, will be singing the blue when it comes to this 12th Essex seat.

As for Ms. Cole’s political future, it likely no longer exists. Voters don’t forget silliness such as this, but maybe she truly doesn’t want a “political future,” which is understandable and certainly OK.

But she definitely “coulda been a contenda.” She could have been a Mass GOP rock star in a few years, and maybe even made Mayor Ted Bettencourt a little bit nervous that he could have a formidable foe in five or six years. But instead, as a nurse, she’s going off fulltime to do noble work.

It’s only too bad she wasn’t up to first finishing the job that Peabody’s voters wanted her to do.

In a curious move, Cole resigning Peabody State Rep seat

21 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Leah Cole

Leah Cole

In a move that could be described as “curious,” Peabody State Rep Leah Cole, who just won re-election last November, announced in a press release yesterday that she is abruptly resigning her seat at the State House, effective Sept. 28th.

“It has come to a point where I can no longer continue to be the State Representative, as well as pursue my passion of nursing,” the 27-year-old Republican said in the release. “I decided to get involved in public service because I wanted to contribute to our state policies and invoke positive changes, but I never intended for politics to be a life-long career.”

More to come on this, but clearly, this is one of the oddest announcements in the history of Peabody politics.

Councilor Anne Manning-Martin

Councilor Anne Manning-Martin

Although it seems noble that Ms. Cole would want to further her nursing career, why not finish out the final year of the term people elected her to serve? Unless there’s something personal here we don’t know, it’s definitely bizarre.

What this also means is another special election for Peabody. Early word on the street is that the Republicans are aren’t necessary scrambling to find a candidate, since they might have one already.

Long-time Councilor at-large Anne Manning-Martin, who once ran for State Rep as a Democrat — losing to Joyce Spiliotis — recently changed her party affiliation to Republican. Manning-Martin also worked hard to get Republican Charlie Baker elected.

“We will have a viable candidate. … We’re going to try to maintain that seat,” Brad Hill, the Ipswich State Rep, and leading Republican on Beacon Hill, told the Salem News.

These 5 only candidates worthy of your school committee votes

20 Aug
School Committee candidates (from left) Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, John Olimpio, Andrew Arnotis and Travis Wojcik

For School Committee: Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, John Olimpio, Andrew Arnotis and Travis Wojcik

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Officially, there are seven candidates running this fall for one of three seats on Peabody’s School Committee.  But in my opinion, only the five shown here are worthy of one of your three votes.


Well, each of them came on the “You Make The Call” cable show last night, and made themselves accessible to the voters of Peabody. It’s an important point, considering that the current school committee members haven’t exactly earned high grades lately for their communication skills.

As for the two who didn’t show, and didn’t make themselves accessible to the voters, it was their loss. And it could be a very big one. One of the no shows was this race’s only incumbent, which made us all wonder whether she needs to develop a thicker skin. Thankfully, most of Peabody’s elected officials understand that part of the job includes maturely being able to deal with the slings and arrows of public comment.

The five who came on last night are an impressive group, maybe the most-impressive I’ve seen when it comes to being at ease with answering questions and handling themselves under the lights.

Each of the five was totally at ease, and I’d personally feel comfortable voting for any of them.

If you missed it and would like to see these guys in action, we’ll re-run the program next Wednesday (Aug. 26), 8-9 p.m. on PAT Channel 99.

There’ll be a primary election on Sept. 29th to trim the field from seven to five. Just my opinion after last night, but the only candidates you should consider that day for your three voters are Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, Andrew Arnotis, John Olimpio and Travis Wojcik.

Candidates for school committee vie for your vote tonight in TV forum

19 Aug

‘You Make The Call’ show will air at 8 p.m. on PAT Ch. 99

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Brian Addesa

Brian Addesa

After a decade, we’re finally on the verge of an era of new ideas and independent thinking.  The upcoming city election will ensure that change is inevitable for Peabody’s School Committee.

Joe Amico

Joe Amico

By January, we’re guaranteed to have two new members of that board, and maybe three should current member Jarod Hochman win his race for Ward 4 Councilor.

Travis Wojcik

Travis Wojcik

But don’t dismiss the possibility that we could change four of the six seats this year, as several very viable and competitive challengers seek to not only fill the two currently vacant seats, but also go after incumbent Brandi Carpenter this November.

Tonight, on our “You Make The Call” television show (8-9 p.m., PAT Ch. 99), co-host Dick Jarvis and I will introduce and quiz the challengers for school committee. Five of the seven candidates for the three seats this fall will appear, as you the voter get to hear from Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, Andrew Arnotis, John Olimpio and Travis Wojcik.

Andrew Arnotis

Andrew Arnotis

John Olimpio

John Olimpio

If you ask me, the above five gentlemen should be the only ones you consider worthy of your three votes. After all, each has enthusiastically accepted this opportunity to speak to you, the voter.

Meanwhile, Carpenter has declined to appear on the show, and challenger Michel Bonbon has neither accepted nor declined the invitation. Make of that what you will.

But we hope you can tune in to what will be an excellent opportunity to hear from candidates who will change – hopefully for the better – the way Peabody’s School Committee operates.

School Committee candidate forum on ‘You Make The Call’

17 Aug


The seven candidates for Peabody School Committee have been invited to appear Wednesday, 8-9 p.m., in a forum on the “You Make The Call” show on Peabody Access Telecommunications Channel 99.

The format will include each candidate briefly introducing themselves, followed by a Q&A from co-hosts Dick Jarvis and Bob Croce, and ending with each candidate presenting a closing statement.

The seven candidates, Brian Addesa, Joe Amico, Andrew Arnotis, Michel Bonbon, Brandi Carpenter, John Olimpio, and Travis Wojcik, will square off in a primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 29th.

The top six vote getters in the primary will meet in November’s final election, where they will vie for three seats on the board.

Update: So far, the only candidate to not reach out to say if he could make it on Wednesday is Mr. Bonbon. Meanwhile, Ms. Carpenter — the only incumbent in the race — has officially declined the invitation to come on the show to talk to the Peabody voters.

Happy Holidays! Your property taxes are increasing for 14th straight year

22 Nov

Community development shows no vision, homeowners take the hit

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Used to be, back when our phones weren’t smart and our current mayor was still draining 3s for Peabody High’s basketball team, annual property tax increases were about as frequent as snow storms in July. They just didn’t happen, and “la, la, la, la, la, laaaaa” all was well in the land ruled by Peter Torigian.

taxIt’s only too bad that, while we were enjoying the rule of a man dubbed the Emperor by a former favorite ink-stained columnist, everyone forgot to glance at those dark clouds on the horizon.

But it’s time to pay for all of that now, Peabody.

In case you missed it, Mayor Ted Bettencourt came before the City Council on Thursday night to get another annual property tax increase. For those of you keeping track, combined between the Bettencourt and Mike Bonfanti administrations, that’s now 14 straight years of increases.

This time, the average homeowner will, they say, pay just $164 more a year. Doesn’t seem like a lot on its own, but let’s add this all up, shall we?

With the average increase the past 14 years being roughly 4% annually, that means our property taxes have increased a whopping 56% since 2001.

Blame it on those dark clouds, if you want. After all, the Torigian years were all about keeping taxes low in the 1980s and 1990s, with no one really thinking about the future when it came to building schools, and re-building infrastructure.

But while Democrats in Congress continue to say “it’s Bush’s fault,” it’s time for Peabodyites everywhere to stop blaming Torigian.

The late, great Emperor walked away at the end of 2001, and there were people who voted in the past election who are too young to even remember him as Mayor.

It’s also shortsighted to keep blaming this on a big bill from the North Shore Mega-Voke, which our City Council unwisely voted for four years ago.

And … trying to sugar coat it by saying the tax increase is kinda a good thing since our property valuations have risen? That’s, as you say, so much cow fertilizer! Unless you’re selling your home to get out or Peabody, who cares?

The true reason for these ceaseless annual increases is that the two mayors since Torigian have offered little vision for dramatically increasing Peabody’s revenues, while taking  that burden off residents.

Peabody still has no long-term plan for expanding its commercial tax base by bringing more quality-of-life-improving businesses to town. We have no REAL plan for the revitalization of our downtown, and the Centennial Industrial Park remains an out-of-date relic of the way business was done back in the 1970s.

Instead of having a long-term strategic plan for growth, we continue along with community development department leaders who couldn’t spell innovation without a dictionary, and think that jamming more tiny apartments into the downtown is the answer.

Look. I like Ted Bettencourt. I think he’s a great guy with lots of passion and enthusiasm for the job of Mayor, and have supported him personally with my votes and my checkbook. But he needs to lead here. He needs to clean house in community development, and bring in people who can help him develop a real plan for expanding our tax base without putting more of the burden on homeowners.

He needs to find out how they are doing it in Salem and Beverley and other North Shore communities, who have actual vibrant downtowns. Hey Ted, let’s go to other communities, where they’ve done it right, and try and steal away those strategic thinkers to help Peabody. It’s time to stop with the “well, Peabody still has the lowest tax rate on the North Shore” BS, and realize that it’s only going to get worse if we don’t start executing on a real community development plan.

After all, unless you call billboards and jamming more low income apartments into downtown “community development,” there really is no vision right now.

I truly am getting tired of writing this each year at this time.

But here we go again …

Happy Holidays, Peabody homeowners. You’re taxes are going up.

Congrats to Moulton on his win, and Tisei for being a class candidate until the end

4 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Richard Tisei

Richard Tisei

Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

Not a lot of free time to write tonight, but I have to say that I have even more respect for Richard Tisei after just watching his concession speech on NECN.

No doubt it was a tough result to swallow for Richard, but his concession speech was as gracious as it gets.

Congrats to Seth Moulton on his victory.

But like I’ve written in this space before: We would have been well served in Congress no matter which man won this election.

I’ll have a full recap and more commentary on the results both locally and across the state tomorrow.

In the local State House races, Ted Speliotis won by a comfortable margin over hard-working challenger Tom Lyons, and Republican Leah Cole upset Peabody School Committee member Beverley Dunne for the second time in the 12th Essex District.

Official results from City Clerk Tim Spanos on the 12th Essex race:

Cole 7,264

Dunne 6,829



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