By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — At 24, Leah Cole is prepared to answer anyone who says she lacks the experience to be Peabody’s state representative.
“I think we have to be careful how we define experience,” she said, referring to experienced Beacon Hill politicians, like Gov. Deval Patrick, who want to raise taxes. “Sometimes I think hard work gets punished. ... I’m running because I’m concerned about the tax increase.”
Cole, a Republican, will face off against Greg Bunn in the March 5 GOP primary. The winner will face two candidates in the April 2 final election, Democrat Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne and the unenrolled Dave Gravel.
Born in Lynn “in the Brown’s Pond area,” she claims strong Peabody ties through her grandparents, who are longtime residents. She moved to Peabody when she was 16 and still lives at home with her parents and grandparents on Lynnfield Street. She laughs off the notion that some might be put off by that. A lot of young people are doing the same thing in a troubled economy, she said.
Cole is a licensed practical nurse who initially studied media at Lynn Tech. She left Fitchburg State College after a semester studying the arts.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she said, “and I figured I better come home and figure it out.”
For a brief period, she worked for the Transportation Security Administration, “harassing people at Logan Airport.”
Finally, in 2010, she attended a 10-month program at the Medical Professional Institute in Malden to become a practical nurse. She hopes to seek RN status in the future. She works at Internal Medicine of the North Shore in Danvers.
“I assist the doctor,” she said. That means dealing with patients, giving injections, taking temperatures and measuring blood pressure. “I love helping people.”
Politics and discussions about politics have been a part of her home life, although she never thought of herself as very political, nor has she been involved in political activities up until now.
“I’m a nurse first,” she said. But she’s already won enough support, she said, to garner $7,000 in donations.
Her youth is a plus among other young people, she believes, as is her stand on taxes. “We want to be able to take our paychecks home at the end of the week.” On the other hand, she worries that Peabody is “not getting the local aid we should.”
She points to Rep. Joyce Spiliotis, who died in November, as a role model, in some respects, should she win office.
“I’ve heard great things about her,” Cole said. “... I would hope to be even half as good as Joyce Spiliotis at constituent service.”
Address: Lynnfield Street
Education: Lynn Technical High School; L.P.N., Medical Professional Institute, Malden
Employment: Licensed practical nurse, Internal Medicine of the North Shore, Danvers