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January 5, 2013

Date set for Peabody rep. race

PEABODY — Just when you were done with politics.

The Massachusetts House has set a date for a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Joyce Spiliotis last November. A general election is set for April 2, with a primary election on March 5. Candidates will be expected to file 150 signatures by Jan. 22, according to Brian McNiff of the secretary of state’s office.

”They can’t waste time,” he said, noting the already-looming deadlines.

The district is exclusive to Peabody, although it includes only wards 1, 2, 3 and 4 and precincts 1 and 3 of Ward 5, McNiff added. Areas of West Peabody, including Ward 6 and the remainder of Ward 5, are part of the district represented by Ted Speliotis of Danvers.

Veteran School Committee member Dave McGeney, who once ran for mayor, predicts that despite the deadlines, the race is likely to draw as many as seven candidates.

”It’s a wild card race,” he added. “There will be a very low voter turnout.” That gives those with an existing campaign organization a tremendous advantage. “Whoever can identify their voters and get them out.”

A few thousand votes could be the difference, McGeney explained. He pointed to Dave Gravel, a former school board member and at-large city councilor, along with current School Committee member Beverley Griffin-Dunne, as examples of candidates having an edge because both have previously won citywide elections.

On the other hand, McGeney predicts that one or more of the candidates will be someone who’s name isn’t even being considered.

”I’m in and I’m on my way to City Hall,” said Dunne Thursday afternoon. A Democrat, she expressed the hope of following in the footsteps of Spiliotis, known for her hands-on work on behalf of constituents. “Running for Joyce’s seat is difficult. ... She was a very dear friend.”

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