By Paul Leighton
BEVERLY — Brett Schetzsle greeted morning and evening commuters at the train station and knocked on doors in North Beverly. Jerry Parisella made last-minute phone calls to supporters and walked the neighborhoods of Centerville until dark.
As one of the most competitive Beverly state representative campaigns in years wound to a close yesterday, the two candidates made the most of the final moments before Election Day.
Schetzsle, a 33-year-old marketing manager looking to become the first Republican to win a state rep race in Beverly in 20 years, said the campaign has been exhausting — he managed to squeeze in a one-hour nap yesterday afternoon — but will ultimately be worth the effort.
"People are fired up," he said as he stood in the November cold at the Beverly depot last night. "People are ready for something different. They're tired of the way things are going on Beacon Hill, and they think I'm the right choice."
Parisella, a 47-year-old attorney, said he feels "cautiously optimistic" about today's outcome.
"You always wonder if you could do more, but I feel like I worked as much as I possibly could," he said after knocking on doors in Centerville. "Whatever happens, I feel like I can look back and say I put in a good, solid effort."
Parisella and Schetzsle are both first-time political candidates looking to replace Mary Grant, a Democrat who chose not to run for re-election after eight years in office.
Parisella is a Beverly native with deep roots in the city and a large extended family. He has touted his years of volunteer work in the community and his military service as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Tim Sullivan said he volunteered to work on Parisella's campaign because Parisella is his next-door neighbor and "a great guy."
"I just think he's the type of individual that will always do the right thing," said Sullivan, a 32-year-old auto dealership service manager. "It sounds corny, but he's the perfect neighbor. During the Mother's Day flood, I had a foot of water in my basement, and he and his brother got me pumped out in about an hour. That's why I was happy to help him and do everything I could."
Supporters of Schetzsle, who grew up in Ohio and moved to Beverly three years ago, are hoping their candidate's positions on the issues will mean more to voters than Parisella's hometown ties.
As Randy Govoni held a Schetzsle sign at the train depot yesterday, the 49-year-old manufacturing worker said he is tired of Democrats on Beacon Hill raising his taxes.
"Brett doesn't want to raise taxes on us. He's taken a pledge on it, and Mr. Parisella will not take that pledge," Govoni said. "I'm tired of my taxes going up. I like the fact that Brett is a businessman and he's a family man, and he chose to live here."
Democrats outnumber Republicans by a ratio of 2-to-1 in Beverly. But both candidates say they must win over the large number of unenrolled voters — around 15,000, more than Democrats and Republicans combined.
"That's the key for everybody," Schetzsle said. "Fifty-five percent of the voters here in Beverly are unenrolled. Those are the people that have to break our way."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.