Tag Archives: Leah Cole

Choice should be Joyce-like when it comes to the race for Peabody State Rep

16 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

It’s been almost two years since the passing of Joyce Spilliotis, and each year at this time I think about her when campaigns heat up. That’s because, in my opinion, the former State Rep and Peabody City Councilor was a model of what we should expect from all of our public servants.

We need a rep who went about the job just like the late, great Joyce Spillotis

We need a rep who went about the job just like the late, great Joyce Spillotis

A lot of what Joyce got for Peabody while on Beacon Hill was because she was a Democrat, who was in step with the major themes of those who ran her party. But first and foremost, she always strived to do what was right for Peabody, and the people she represented.

If that meant tangling with the Speaker, so be it. If it meant cutting a deal with members of her party, and even wooing some Republican votes to get what she needed for Peabody, she knew how to negotiate.

At the end of the day, she was certainly a Democrat, but it was always people over party.  It was always Peabody first.

People have asked me lately why I’ve been so rough in this space on our freshman Republican State Rep Leah Cole, and the first thing I usually say is that it’s definitely not personal. Although I’ve met Leah only a couple of times, I think she’s a nice person. I also think it’s admirable when people in her age group get involved in community service, and that we need more 25-year olds running for office, especially when it comes to Library Trustee, school committee, and city council.

But I don’t think her being part of the minority party on Beacon Hill, and her lack of business, leadership and life experience are good qualities for Peabody’s State Rep. to have.

There’s something else, though, and this is where I think about the job done by Joyce.

Many times, I get the impression that Leah Cole is on Beacon Hill to be more of a foothold for the dysfunctional Mass GOP, than she is there to represent the residents of Peabody. I cite her rhetoric during the special election, during which she managed to get about 6% of the district’s roughly 28K voters to fill in the oval next to her name.

During that campaign, and while defending the acceptance of donations from outside of Peabody, she sometimes talked about how State Reps don’t just represent their districts, but also make decisions for the entire state. I don’t think I ever heard Joyce Spilliotis worry about anything other than the people who needed here most back her in Peabody.

“I believe her platform will be different. I am interested in hearing what she has to say. … So much of her support comes from outside of Peabody; I would like to know what exactly she intends to do for the citizens (of Peabody),” Beverley Griffin Dunne, Cole’s Democratic opponent on Nov. 4th ,told the Salem News yesterday.

And Beverley is right. While Joyce Spilliotis was all about Peabody and constituent services, Leah Cole seems more interested in pushing forward with the state Republican Party’s agenda, and wooing support from OUTSIDE of Peabody. She’s worked on a number of fiscally responsible tax issues, which I feel most Peabody people would agree with, but it’s all been rhetoric rather than action, since Republicans on Beacon Hill have very little influence.

Money is not only the “mother’s milk of politics,” it’s also the major thing that ends up influencing the decisions of most elected officials.  This is why my eyebrows are raised when I see that a majority of the money in Cole’s war chest coming from non-Peabody people.

When Cole talks about more responsible tax policies and not bilking the middle class, most of us stand up and cheer. But then we peel the onion, and see that she received $22K in in-kind contributions from the uber right-wing Marlborough Republican City Committee, which is in lock-step with the far right nationally when it comes to social issues. Heck, we all want lower taxes, but I believe that the majority of Mass. voters are live and let live when it comes to same-sex marriage. I also believe that, while most people are not pro-abortion, they certainly aren’t – like most Republicans – against a woman’s right to choose.

This is indeed going to be one of the more interesting Peabody State Rep races in recent memory. All I suggest is that people peel the onion, and ask themselves the following before making a decision:

Which of these two candidates is more like Joyce?

Follow Bob on Twitter @eyeonpeabody

Lovely and Cole don’t make us pay for their commute … Meanwhile, Speliotis is ‘King of the Per Diem’

1 Jul

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

We spend significant time in this space exposing elected officials when they don’t act in the best interests of “we the people.” So, it’s only fair that we also make mention when they do the right thing.

Leah Cole ... working toward the fringe?

Leah Cole: “We’re supposed to work for the taxpayers, and most people don’t get paid to drive to work.”

Those mentions come today as we tip our caps to State Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem), and State Rep. Leah Cole (R-Peabody).  After all, it came to light last week that neither Mrs. Lovely nor Ms. Cole are bilking the taxpayers for one of the most-outrageous benefits received by most of the solons on Beacon Hill.

Neither Lovely, nor Cole take per diem (up to $18/day) for just commuting into the State House. According to state treasurer records, taxpayers gave lawmakers more than $300,000 in per diems last year. Think about that as you’re paying out of your own pocket to fill up your tank three times a week just to get to work.

So, thank you Senator Lovely and Rep. Cole …

But now, let’s consider the case of the “King of Per Diems.” The people of West Peabody are represented by a man who shamelessly took your money at a rate of $18 per day just to commute to work. Ted Speliotis, who never saw a tax increase he didn’t like, collected $3,510 of your money last year to make 195 trips into Boston. By the way, the solons get this reimbursement without needing to provide receipts. It’s all on the honor system. Of all of the North Shore lawmakers, Speliotis took the second largest overall per diem, but he was less than $80 out of first place!

With per diem, we essentially pay Mr. Speliotis, who faces a stiff challenge this fall from West Peabody resident Tom Lyons, more than $70K per year for what’s essentially a part-time job.

And just as an important aside here … this guy voted for the gas tax. Why wouldn’t he? We’re the ones filling his tank for free.

“We’re supposed to be working for the taxpayers, and most people don’t get paid to drive to work,” Ms. Cole told the Salem News last week. “But I only live about 20 minutes away, so it’s not a big deal.”

By the way, if you see Ted Speliotis in traffic on the way into work someday, make sure you don’t have any cash in your hands if you decide to wave. He might grab it.


Dunne’s in, are Cole and Gould out when it comes to Peabody State Rep race?

20 Jan

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

We know Beverley Dunne is in, but who will join her in the race for State Rep?

We know Beverley Dunne is in, but who will join her in the race for State Rep?

I thought we’d have some Peabody political insider fun this afternoon, and talk about what the Eye is uncovering in what could become another very interesting race for the State Rep seat in the 12th Essex District (Peabody Wards 1-4, Ward 5 Prec. 1 & 3).

Less than a year after Republican Leah Cole’s stunning special election upset win over Democrat Beverley Dunne and unenrolled candidate Dave Gravel, candidate names are being floated as the seat gets contested again this November.

Dunne has told several people that she’s going for it again on the Democrat side, and we’ve heard speculation that Ward 1 Councilor Barry Osborne is contemplating a run as an unenrolled candidate.

But here’s what else The Eye is learning …

Incumbent Cole is leaning away from running for re-election to focus on her nursing career, and another source tells us Councilor at-large Tom Gould is leaning against running too. Gould considered running last year for the open seat after Joyce Spilliotis passed away, but then decided against it to focus on his business.

The Cole thing could change quickly, though, once the Mass GOP gets wind of it and starts doing whatever it can to convince its Golden Girl to run again, including a promise to help her build a campaign war chest north of $100K.

It all does make you wonder, though, if the Peabody Democratic City Committee is going to step up this time and support the Democratic candidate. Osborne is really a Democrat, and so too was Gravel last time. But the party insiders were divided, and with Dunne and Gravel splitting the vote, it made things much easier for Ms. Cole to pull off the upset.

Let me know in the comments section what you think will happen here.

Lesson learned for all Peabody Democrats? For the sake of the party, we hope so

3 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Peabody Democrats from Lynnfield to Lake Street came to realize earlier today that the sun did indeed come up on this frosty cold, un-spring-like morning.

But while sticking with this celestial theme, what we should have been thinking about was this lesson from Bill Shakespeare:

 “The fault, dear Democrats, is not in our stars … but in ourselves.”

Leah Cole, Peabody's State Rep

Leah Cole, Peabody’s State Rep

Before I go any further, I want to congratulate Peabody’s new State Rep, Republican Leah Cole, and urge all of my Democratic colleagues to do themselves a favor today and STOP with the excuses. Cole won fairly, and if you look at the campaign she ran, you immediately come to the conclusion that both Beverley Griffin Dunne and David Gravel likely never saw this coming.

The Dunne and Gravel campaign teams were solid, and worked their tails off throughout the weeks leading up to this special election. But all of us underestimated and mis-calculated when it came to Ms. Cole.

All we saw, and I’m as guilty as anyone else, was a 24-year-old, first-time candidate with zero name recognition on Day 1, and all we thought was … “this is a kid with no chance.”

What didn’t we see?

Well, we didn’t see that she was backed by an aggressive, very experienced, and battle-tested statewide professional political organization.  Ron Paul’s Liberty Movement showed once again that it can not only organize, but also infuse a candidate with the Mother’s Milk of Politics: Lots and lots of cash. They were also able to keep her focused on the populist message that government takes too much from us, wastes our money, and is now asking for even more from Peabody’s working classes.

Although I’m sure the mainstream Mass. GOP is crowing this morning about winning a seat which the Dems have held for decades, they don’t deserve the credit and still have no credible, grassroots process for building a “farm team.” This victory belongs to the sons and daughters of the Liberty Movement, who are sort of like the Tea Party, only with younger members and fewer far right zealots.

Oh sure, there is a lot of evidence that leads to the conclusion that had Mr. Gravel not been in the race as an unenrolled candidate, Ms. Dunne would have won this seat back for the Democrats. But he was in, and as Democrats shouldn’t we have all known that it would split our vote? Shouldn’t we have seen more unity and support among Dems behind our only Democratic candidate in this race, especially from some of those who call themselves Peabody Democratic Party leaders?

For weeks, all I heard was speculation on who Cole would hurt more yesterday, Dunne or Gravel. Did anyone really ever stop to consider how much Dunne and Gravel would hurt each other?

 But once again, the fault, dear Democrats, is not in Dave Gravel … it’s in ourselves.

Seventy-three votes was the difference. As a party couldn’t we have united enough to find 74 more votes?

Maybe. But this should also be a moment of clarity for us. If you can learn from it, sometimes losing isn’t a bad thing.

It’s time for us to realize that we need to get back to the principles that made fiscally conservative working class people in a city like Peabody embrace Democrats like our late, great State Rep Joyce Spilliotis?

Why have Peabody people suddenly begun turning on us Democrats, and voting for the Scott Browns, Charlie Bakers, and Leah Coles?

Our party has swung too far to the fringe, and people who work for a living are tired of losing more of their paychecks to support tax increases that feed a wasteful, bloated state government. By the way, I’m not talking about Beverley Griffin Dunne or Dave Gravel here. I’m talking about Democrats such as the State Rep from western Mass., who yesterday told me she felt that Governor Deval Patrick’s bloated budget proposal and tax increase don’t go far enough.

Both Dunne and Gravel stated during the campaign that they opposed the Governor’s tax increase. But it didn’t matter, the big-spending stench surrounded them just enough to have people pass on connecting the line next to their name. Guilt simply by association, perhaps.

As Peabody Democrats, it’s time that we adopted a message that we are the party that helps people who need help, but part of that responsibility includes ensuring that struggling working class people aren’t smothered by onerous tax increases designed to fund wasteful spending.

Isn’t it possible as a Democrat to be socially moderate or progressive while at the same time be fiscally  conservative? Most people, after all, want to be helped, but not hurt by government.

Aren’t those the type of principles under which Joyce Spilliotis operated?

And isn’t that what the voters of Peabody told us loud and clear yesterday?

Message sent, for sure.  But what still remains is,  as Democrats, what are we going to do about it?

Get out and vote today: State Rep Special Election, polls open until 8 p.m.

2 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Today is the Special Election for State Rep in the 12th Essex District  (Peabody Wards 1-4, and Prec. 1 and 3 in Ward 5).

PLEASE: Do your civic duty today, and get out and vote. Polls are open until 8 p.m.

Here are the candidates:

Leah V. Cole 369 Lynnfield Street Republican
Beverley A. Griffin Dunne 10 Colfax Street Democrat
David C. Gravel 20 Tara Road Unenrolled

Here’s a listing of all of Peabody’s polling places. If you are not sure where you vote, please call the City Clerk’s office at 978-538-5756.

Ward 1
1-1 Saint Ann’s Church 140 Lynn St.
1-2 Woodbridge Assisted Living 240 Lynnfield St.
1-3 Saint Ann’s Church 140 Lynn St.
Ward 2
2-1 Welch School 50 Swampscott Ave.
2-2 Welch School 50 Swampscott Ave.
2-3 South School 16 Maple St. Ext.
Ward 3
3-1 Our Lady of Fatima Church 50 Walsh Ave.
3-2 Our Lady of Fatima Church 50 Walsh Ave.
3-3 Wilson Terrace Rec Hall 15A Wilson Ter.
Ward 4
4-1 Higgins Middle School 1 King St. Ext.
4-2 Higgins Middle School 1 King St. Ext.
4-3 Peabody Vets Memorial High School 485 Lowell St.
4-3A Macintosh Clubhouse 300 Brooksby Village Dr.
Ward 5
5-1 Kiley School 21 Johnson St.
5-3 McCarthy School 76 Lake St.

Catching up on nice honor for local hero … and more

22 Mar

(Just catching up on some things after a very busy month for work travel and the campaign.)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Local hero Alex Romano

Local hero Alex Romano

Starting this off today by talking about an honor for a “local hero,” and a young woman who should be a model for other Peabody teens to follow.

Peabody High senior Alexndra Romano was honored this week as a local hero by the American Red Cross of Northeast Massachusetts for going above and beyond in putting together a campaign to help people who became homeless because of Hurricane Sandy. Alex called her campaign “Kill the Chill,” and it included collecting clothing and blankets, and collecting donations for storm victims, which were quickly put to use by the Red Cross.

Alex and her sister Lea are both very active in their community when it comes to public service, and it’s an awesome thing to watch in these days when many young people would rather spend their free time playing video games.

The sisters also each year organize the “Caring Carolers,” who roam our Goodale Street-area neighborhood during Christmastime singing carols door-to-door while collecting money for Haven From Hunger. Not only do they get their friends together to sing for a very good cause, but their visit to your door really makes you feel good and get into the Christmas spirit.

Angela and Mike Romano must be very proud parents!

 Want to know why we are stuck with Comcast?

Mayor Ted Bettencourt  says he is asked on an almost daily basis why Peabody is not home to any alternative providers of cable TV, high-speed internet and telephone service. Conspiracy theories abound but it turns out the answer is simple and straight forward, according to a press release The Eye received from City Hall this week:

“At this time, no other provider of the phone/cable/ internet trio of services has expressed an interest in coming to Peabody,” Mayor Bettencourt tells The Eye. “We would like residents to have a choice of providers and would certainly welcome other options. At this time however, none of the alternatives to Comcast has stepped up with a proposal.”

Mayor Bettencourt said he understands Peabody residents’ frustration with the lack of choice here. “I absolutely understand their frustrations,” Bettencourt said. “Having a choice helps assure we get the best value for our money. When there is no competition in the marketplace, people feel like they are at the mercy of a monopoly. In the final analysis however, we cannot force these competitors to set up shop in Peabody against their will.”

With some of the best known alternatives out of reach for now, Bettencourt says the city may turn its attention to niche providers who offer similar services on an individual or dual basis rather than the heavily marketed three-in-one portfolio.

“We recognize the benefit of having more than one provider of cable, phone and internet service,” said Mayor Bettencourt. “If another provider sees a market in Peabody, we are all ears.”

 Our sign of the times: Great job by Smuz and the Mayor

Hats off to Mayor Bettencourt for holding firm and instituting the cease and desist order, and to City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski for his skillful argument in court this past week on placement of the giant billboard on Lowell Street near Route 1.

Judge Howard Whitehead agreed with city officials — the 92-foot pole is definitely not where they thought it was going to be installed when he ruled against the city last year.

As reported in the Peabody Patch, Smerczynski says the issue now for Whitehead to decide is whether that truly was because of a clerical error when the plans were submitted in court or a broken promise first made to appease local officials who didn’t want the billboard there at all off Lowell Street. The city and the owner of the billboard, Total Outdoor Corp, argued their sides in Salem Superior Court this past Monday. Definitely more work to do in court before this is resolved. Stay tuned.

 Should be either Dunne or Gravel, but Cole could surprise

Going to be a very interesting Election Day on April 2 when people go to the polls to vote in the State Rep special election. Because name recognition is so important, I honestly think it’s between Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne and unenrolled candidate David Gravel. But there is a lot of money being pumped into Republican Leah Cole’s campaign by the Republican Party and the Ron-Paul-inspirted Libery Movement. There’s also a lot of unhappiness these days with traditional candidates, so Cole might actually pull a solid number. It’s not my State Rep district, so I sort of feel cheated here. I can’t even vote! …

Great job by Councilor At-Large Tom Gould while handling the MC duties at last Saturday’s First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Roast and breakfast at City Hall. Also, a lot of surprisingly funny performances by some local politicos. I mean, who knew Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz and Mayor Bettencourt were actually funny guys? It was a really fun morning for a really great cause as all the ticket and raffle money went to Haven From Hunger.

If you are in the 12th Essex State Rep District: GET OUT AND VOTE on April 2nd!

‘Make The Call’ show invites State Rep primary candidates to address voters

6 Mar

By Eye On Peabody

Please join your hosts Dick Jarvis and Bob Croce tonight, 8-9 p.m., on PAT Channel 99 when they invite the candidates from yesterday’s primaries for Peabody  State Rep. on the “You Make the Call” show.

Dick and Bob have invited Democratic Primary winner Beverley Griffin Dunne, Republican Primary winner Leah Cole, and Republican Primary runner up Greg Bunn to come on and address the voters of Peabody about yesterday’s results.

On our next show, we will invite back Dunne and Cole, as well as unenrolled candidate David Gravel in advance of the final election on April 2nd.

For now, though, please tune in and ask questions of the candidates. Each will be individually given 10-15 minutes to address the voters and answer questions from our co-hosts and the callers.

Cole edges Bunn in State Rep Republican primary

5 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

On day when just 6% of Peabody voters turned out at the polls, Leah Cole topped Greg Bunn 512-460 to win the Republican nomination in today’s primary for State Rep in the 12th Essex District.

In what was a record low turnout for a Peabody election, Peabody School Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne also advanced to the final ballot as the Democratic nomineee. Dunne did not have a primary opponent, but she also ended up with more votes than Cole.

Cole, Dunne, and unenrolled candidate David Gravel will faceoff in the final election on April 2nd.

In their own words: Hear from the candidates for state rep before you vote

5 Mar

By Eye on Peabody

If you haven’t yet voted in today’s Primary for the Special Election for Peabody State Rep in the 12th Essex District,  and are still undecided, check out these videos in the Peabody Patch. They are from a recent appearance by each candidate at the Brooksby Village candidates forum.

State Rep Primary Election Day is upon us: Get out and vote today

4 Mar
Beverley Dunne

Beverley Dunne

Leah Cole

Leah Cole

Greg Bunn

Greg Bunn


EDITOR’S NOTE: If you already voted today, please use the comments section to tell us who you voted for, why, and what was the scene/turnout like at your polling place.

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Today is Election Day in Peabody for those who live in Wards 1-4, and in Ward 5 Precincts 1 and 3. Three candidates are on the ballot in a primary for State Representative.

There is a contested primary on the Republican side, where Greg Bunn will face off against Leah Cole.  On the Democratic side, Beverley Griffin Dunne will appear on the ballot, but is unopposed. If you are not enrolled in either the Republican or Democratic Party, you are eligible tomorrow to choose either party’s ballot.

Either Bunn or Cole, and Dunne will faceoff April 2nd against unenrolled candidate David Gravel on final election ballot in this race to fill the seat left open in the 12th Essex District following the death of Joyce Spilliotis last November.

Polls are open  from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Here are some more details in the Peabody Patch.