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July 27, 2013

Peabody mayor gets a free ride into November election

PEABODY — Mayor Ted Bettencourt will go to the polls in November with no opponent on the ballot.

The time limit for taking out papers to run for mayor expired last night, with only the sitting mayor signed up to run. Any opponent would have the nearly impossible task of mounting a write-in campaign.

“I hope people do think I’m doing a good job for the city,” the mayor said. “We’ve made good progress in a number of areas.”

He touted his ability to persuade city workers to sign onto the GIC, a state-run health care program that substantially reduces Peabody’s costs. He also has made construction of a new Higgins Middle School a signature issue.

Despite the lack of opposition, the mayor said he will go ahead with three planned fundraisers, in August, September and October. His campaign currently has $27,000 in the bank.

Longtime Peabody poll watcher Mike Schulze, an ally of the mayor, credits Bettencourt’s hard work and crammed schedule with establishing the kind of popularity that discourages opposition.

“He’s working hard to do the things he’s talked about. ... He’s got all sorts of irons in the fire. He’s nonstop,” Schulze said.

Meanwhile, Bettencourt is declaring “hands off” in the races for City Council and School Committee. Based on those who have pulled papers, it’s probable nine candidates will contest for five at-large council seats, while two run for a single Ward 5 seat, two run in Ward 2 and three in Ward 3. Four School Committee hopefuls are vying for three seats.

Four incumbents will be on the ballot for at-large councilor, including Tom Gould, Anne Manning-Martin, Mike Garabedian and Dave Gravel. The five hoping to find a new place as at-large members are former state Rep. Tom Walsh, Republican Scott Frasca, library trustee and former at-large candidate Margaret Tierney, former mayoral candidate Russ Donovan and Route 1 resident Peter Bakula.

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