DANVERS — When Ted Speliotis was growing up in a Greek-American family of Democrats in Peabody and Danvers, politics was considered a topic of conversation, not a career.
“My dad wasn’t political,” Speliotis said, but the family did talk about politics and civil rights issues. The Vietnam War was raging, there was civil unrest in the nation, and his father, a World War II veteran, came out against the war.
“‘That’s just a swamp,’” Speliotis recalls his late father, Charles, telling him. “‘They can say what they want, but we don’t need that swamp...’”
Today, the state representative for the 13th Essex District describes himself as a hard-working lawmaker who, after toiling for many years in the Legislature, has achieved a senior position as co-chairman of the busy Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.
The Democrat said he lives and breathes his Statehouse post. It is a different path than those taken by other family members. Speliotis’ father graduated from Peabody High in 1943 but never went to college. However, he pushed his children to do so, and to make something of their lives.
When Ted Speliotis began studying political science at Northeastern University, Charles Speliotis asked his son what he planned to do with his education.
“He would say, ‘What are you going to do with this degree?’” Ted Speliotis said. “I didn’t have an answer.”
That was until Speliotis spotted a poster at Northeastern that announced liberal arts majors could also earn teacher certification. Speliotis found a job as a substitute teacher at the then-Holten Richmond Junior High.
His teaching job paid dividends, he said. During his first campaign in 1978, his students helped him drop campaign literature around the district in just two hours, he said.
While he’s identified as the Danvers state representative, Speliotis’ roots are in Peabody. He grew up across the street from St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church on Paleologos Street. The site of his childhood home is now a parking lot. He is the oldest of four — younger brother Jim of Danvers; sister Debbie, who lives in California; and youngest sister, Sharon, who is married to Tom Gould of Peabody. They own Treadwell’s Ice Cream in Peabody.