, Salem, MA

April 1, 2013

Making their final pitches

Peabody state rep election is tomorrow

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — The final push is on for the three candidates running for Peabody’s state representative seat in tomorrow’s special election.

Democrat Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne, Republican Leah Cole and unenrolled candidate David Gravel spent the weekend going door to door, holding signs and calling voters, before taking a break from public campaigning yesterday in honor of Easter.

Polls will be open tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The 12th Essex state representative seat was left vacant when longtime Rep. Joyce Spiliotis died shortly after winning re-election in November. The winner of tomorrow’s election will fill out the remainder of her term. The seat will be up for election again in November 2014.

“This weekend is all about last visibility and more voter contact,” Gravel said. “We are working hard, and I have a great group of people who are working their hearts out to bring this to victory.”

Gravel, 56, said they have been “everywhere” around the city trying to get their message out about the experience he will bring to Beacon Hill as a city councilor-at-large and former School Committee member.

“The feedback I got has been very positive,” Gravel said. “People are really receiving the message.”

Cole, 24, a licensed practical nurse, said she has continued to work full time while campaigning, but held signs and met with voters over the weekend.

“It has been nonstop; it is a lot of work in a short amount of time,” Cole said. “The biggest thing is connecting with voters over the weekend.”

She said people have taken to her message of lower taxes and more accountability on Beacon Hill.

“I’m having people say they want some fresh ideas,” Cole said. “They seem excited; the reception has been good.”

Residents might have also received a phone call at their homes over the weekend from a familiar voice — Republican Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator, who recorded a voice message in support of Cole.

Griffin Dunne, 55, a School Committee member, held a rally Saturday outside the Northshore Mall with John Walsh, chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, before going door to door. On Friday, her campaign sent out last-minute literature to Peabody households.

“I’ll be working hard on this campaign until Tuesday at 8 p.m.,” she said. “I’ve had the great opportunity to talk to many voters, and I look forward to talking to more.”

Griffin Dunne said the hardest part of the campaign has been the time frame leading up to the special election.

“The response has been very good,” she said. “People have been asking good questions, and I’ve had the chance to talk to them about what I stand for and what I hope to accomplish as state representative.”

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