PEABODY — Five candidates have filed the signatures needed to compete in the special election for Peabody’s representative on Beacon Hill. The seat was left vacant by the November death of Rep. Joyce Spiliotis.
The endorsements of at least 150 people were needed to qualify for the ballot.
The electoral lineup should assure three candidates in the final election on April 2. City Councilor Dave Gravel, at present unenrolled — meaning he is not affiliated with any party — is assured of a spot on the ballot. But two Democrats and two Republicans must slug it out in a March 5 primary, with one each being eliminated.
Facing off for the GOP are Greg Bunn and Leah Cole, while the Democrat side will see a contest between School Committee member Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne and former Ward Councilor James Moutsoulas.
This state representative district is exclusive to Peabody, although it includes only wards 1, 2, 3 and 4 and precincts 1 and 3 of Ward 5.
Cole, 24, is a nurse who lives in South Peabody and has not run for political office before. Bunn, who lives in West Peabody, was born in 1971. He works at the North Shore Career Centers, according to his website.
It’s the pair’s lack of political experience in a predominantly Democratic district that makes each a long-shot candidate, according to former Mayor Michael Bonfanti, a Democrat. “It might come down to who can marshal their forces.”
In that case, candidates who have run citywide previously might have an edge.
Democratic Party activist Mike Schulze echoes Bonfanti’s views, although he praises Bunn.
“He seems like a nice kid, and he’s going to give it a shot.”
Most voters will come from the downtown, Schulze predicts, which should help Moutsoulas, who was undefeated as ward councilor.
“He’s a Democrat for a long time. ... He’s strong in Ward 3.”