SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Election

September 24, 2012

A rushed race for state rep hopefuls

Danvers: Write-in surprise forces rematch between Speliotis and Bennett

(Continued)

Bennett said he would be tireless in responding to constituents’ requests. Working in real estate, he is used to working at all hours.

“If they have a question, Dan Bennett will be there to respond,” Bennett said. “That’s exactly as I’ve been as selectman for the past six years.”

Speliotis said he is proud of his accomplishments over the past couple of years during what “has been our most difficult economic times in our lifetime.”

In this fiscal year, Speliotis said, Danvers received a 26 percent increase in local aid, approximately $1.8 million more. State aid to Danvers had been trimmed dramatically in recent years. The town saw one of the largest percentage increases in local aid on the North Shore, Speliotis said, with much of the increase for so-called Chapter 70 education aid followed by an increase in lottery funding. Speliotis said he and other lawmakers worked to change the local aid formulas to better account for Danvers middle-class makeup.

Speliotis was also proud of his efforts at winning a ruling from the state auditor that said funding for homeless student transportation was an unfunded mandate, leading to a line item in the state budget to handle those costs. In recent years, Danvers has been dealing with an influx of homeless sheltered in its budget hotels, which the state has been using as transitional housing.

The town will get approximately $100,000 more for these costs, and the Legislature funded homeless student transportation at $11.3 million statewide this year.

Speliotis said he also helped broker compromise on Right to Repair legislation to make it easier for consumers, service station owners and auto dealers to access repair codes while ensuring automakers’ proprietary information is protected. Massachusetts is the first state in the nation to pass such a bill, Speliotis said.

He added that his seniority will be important for the North Shore, which is about to lose some on Beacon Hill with the retirement of Senate Majority Leader Fred Berry, D-Peabody, a 30-year state senator. Speliotis said he represents a good portion of the Senate district.

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