Editor’s note: The following is the last in a series of articles profiling Peabody’s state representative candidates.
PEABODY — In this city, Republicans are significantly outnumbered. Their March primary for state representative drew a small vote. But Leah Cole’s victory, in her first political race, over a candidate favored by the establishment, raised eyebrows.
Cole is now challenging Democrat Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne and the unenrolled Dave Gravel in the April 2 special election meant to fill the seat vacated by the untimely death of Joyce Spiliotis in November.
Part of Cole’s success can be traced to out-of-town residents who worked and donated to her effort. Campaign manager Ryan Chamberland, for example, earned a payment financed by the Marlborough Republican City Committee. Meanwhile, several of her supporters saluted Cole’s devotion to libertarian ideals.
These days, says Cole, 24, she’s enjoying increasing support as Peabody residents warm to her message.
“Going door to door, the reception has been great,” she says.
As to libertarianism, she will pay tribute to one of the philosophy’s leading disciples, saying, “I think (former presidential candidate) Ron Paul has some good ideas. I embrace some of the ideas of liberty. And personal responsibility. ... But I’m not running on libertarian ideas.”
She’s quick to separate herself from what some consider the extreme end of libertarian thought, which eschews the idea of the government imposing restrictions on personal behavior.
Gambling? “Everything needs some regulation.” Drugs? “A lot of people are very polarized. I think we do need some laws.”
For Cole, the biggest issue in this campaign is taxes. She states flatly that she will vote down a nearly $2 billion increase proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick to finance things like high-speed rail.
“We already have some of the highest taxes in the country,” Cole says. “The sales tax and income tax should be lowered.”