PEABODY — If money is the mother’s milk of politics, then ice cream vendor Tom Gould is the milkman in this year’s councilor-at-large race.
Looking for his second term, Gould, the owner of Treadwell’s, raised more money — nearly $16,500 — this year than any other council candidate in the race. Added to the $10,000 he already had on hand, it left him with the largest campaign kitty, according to campaign finance reports filed this week for the period ending Oct. 28.
Gould’s scores of donors included Mayor Ted Bettencourt, Sheriff Frank Cousins, former Mayor Mike Bonfanti, state Sen. Joan Lovely’s campaign committee, Jacqueline Torigian (wife of former Mayor Peter Torigian) and state Rep. Ted Speliotis, the candidate’s brother-in-law. The top donor was Robert Caldwell of Peabody at $500.
Gould’s funding could be earmarked with future campaigns in mind, including, as some suspect, an effort to unseat state Rep. Leah Cole in 2014.
That’s not unlike the strategy at work in Mayor Bettencourt’s fundraising. He has no opponent in the Nov. 5 election, but that hasn’t stopped him from raising $35,000 this year. Added to what was already in his campaign account, about $12,000, he appears to be on his way to amassing a fund that could discourage challengers in future elections. He spent about $22,000 of that during the year.
Bettencourt reported nearly 300 individual donations, many from well-known Peabody residents, including retired state Sen. Fred Berry and Dick Jarvis, husband of the late state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis. Among the top donors at $500 were former interim school superintendent Herb Levine, accountant Thomas Milbury, Santarpio’s restaurant owner David Modica of Marblehead, and lawyers Christine Smerczynski, Michael Weiss and Robyn Milbury.
There are nine candidates for councilor-at-large, vying for five seats. In addition, three ward council seats are contested, in Wards 2, 3 and 5.