SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 29, 2013

Griffin Dunne wins Spiliotis family's nod

State representative challengers Cole and Gravel also list significant endorsements

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — The family of the late state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis yesterday backed Democrat Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne.

It’s the latest in a slew of high-profile endorsements received by the three candidates for Peabody state representative as they head into Tuesday’s special election.

Griffin Dunne, 55, a school board member, will face off against Republican Leah Cole and unenrolled candidate David Gravel, a city councilor, to fill the remainder of Spiliotis’ 12th Essex District state representative term.

Gravel has the endorsement of former Peabody Mayor Michael Bonfanti, while Cole has been endorsed by former Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker.

All three list a number of other significant endorsements.

Spiliotis “believed with all her heart that helping and serving the people she represented was an especially noble effort,” her husband, Richard Jarvis, wrote yesterday in a letter of support for Griffin Dunne.

Jarvis said Griffin Dunne has “demonstrated a lifelong commitment to our city.”

“Beverley Griffin Dunne’s qualifications and her impressive résumé of unselfish commitment to the residents of Peabody prove that her service to the citizens of Peabody speaks louder than words,” Jarvis wrote on behalf of his family.

Griffin Dunne has also received endorsements from the Peabody Democratic City Committee, Massachusetts Nurses Association and Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union.

“Receiving the endorsement of Joyce’s family is the most meaningful endorsement I could have received,” Griffin Dunne said yesterday. “I want on carry on Joyce’s work with constituent services and care for the people of Peabody the way Joyce cared for them.”

Cole, 24, a Republican and a licensed practical nurse, has been endorsed by Citizens for Limited Taxation and New Jobs for Massachusetts, as well as Baker, a Swampscott resident.

“Leah has made a difference as a health care provider, and she is dedicated to putting people before politics,” Baker said in a statement. “She will work hard identifying solutions to some of Peabody’s most pressing economic issues.”

Cole’s campaign manager, Ryan Chamberland, said the endorsements speak to Cole’s commitment to bring fiscal responsibility and accountability to Beacon Hill.

“She had made it very clear she will oppose Patrick’s proposed tax increase,” he said.

In addition to Bonfanti, Gravel, 56, has the endorsement of the Carpenters Local Union 26 and the Massachusetts Teachers Association. He also has posted videos on his website of a number of residents and current and former political figures who support him, including City Councilor Tom Gould and former City Councilor Fred Murtagh.

“What they say is they talk about my qualifications and character as a candidate,” Gravel said. “They are people I’ve worked with either on a volunteer basis or politically.”

One of the endorsements he is most proud of, he said, comes from Jackie Torigian, the wife of the late Mayor Peter Torigian.

She said Gravel would be a “champion for Peabody.”

“Over the years,” she wrote, “Dave has been a voice of reason on the City Council and School Committee and an important part of so many local efforts to make our city a better place.”

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.