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March 4, 2014

Cole to run for re-election; Griffin Dunne likely opponent

PEABODY — State Rep. Leah Cole is running for re-election.

“I was able to start fighting for the things I believe in and the things the people of Peabody elected me to do,” Cole, a Republican, said. And it’s work she wants to continue.

She said her priorities include sorting out the state’s spending to get more money to cities like Peabody.

“Instead of raising taxes ... let’s figure out ways we can spend what money we have more efficiently,” she said.

As an example of misplaced priorities, she cited a recent $500,000 spent by the state to study black sea bass. That might be beneficial for fisherman, she said, but there are more pressing needs.

“We have trouble filling the potholes in Peabody,” she said.

Further, she pointed to the value of her opposition to the gas tax and her work on the elder affairs and health care financing committees. A nurse, the 25-year-old Cole continues to provide patient care — “my first love” — on weekends.

Cole’s victory last spring shocked political onlookers. In a low-turnout contest, a majority of voters divided between Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne of the school board and Democrat-turned-independent Dave Gravel from the City Council, leaving Cole with a narrow plurality.

Dunne, 56, hasn’t officially announced her candidacy, but she took out papers on Feb. 6 to run again. She hopes to fulfill a promise made on election night to seek a rematch.

“I’m just getting the word out and getting started,” she said, noting that she’s seeing support from her former team, as well as a number of new faces.

Her lifelong Peabody residency and her experience on the School Committee, as well as her work as a lawyer, give her an edge in representing the city, Dunne said. “I have a very good grasp of the issues.” She stressed the need to bring more state aid to the city.

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