SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 14, 2012

Lots of buzz around Peabody rep seat

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — Lots of speculation in Peabody regarding a possible successor for the late state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis.

The word around the square is that popular City Councilor Tom Gould (who also happens to be Danvers state Rep. Ted Speliotis’ brother-in-law) isn’t interested at this time. Given his strong showing in the last council election, he would have been a heavy favorite.

That leaves the door open for any number of others who might want to make the daily trek to the Statehouse. Among those most frequently mentioned are School Committeewoman Beverley Griffin-Dunne and Councilors David Gravel and Anne Manning-Martin, who ran unsuccessfully against Spiliotis in 2002.

Some are promoting Griffin-Dunne as “Joyce’s choice,” and she enjoys a long and close relationship with Mayor Ted Bettencourt. It will be interesting to see whether the mayor can stay out of this race, as he did the battle to replace retiring state Sen. Fred Berry.

Given that the Legislature will not even discuss dates for a special election until after the holidays, there’s still plenty of time for someone other than the usual suspects to consider a run for the seat. Tom Walsh, who served in the House years ago, would make a great candidate, but our understanding is that his first foray back into the world of politics might involve a run for councilor-at-large in the fall.

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Now that Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll has made her interest in a third term official, it will be very interesting to see whether any of her council critics, like Ward 2’s Mike Sosnowski, have the gumption to take her on at the ballot box.

(Speaking of Sosnowski, one has to wonder whether his refusal to consider out-of-towners for any municipal position would apply should he become chief executive. It would make for an extremely shallow talent pool in some cases.)

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Every other year or so, hackles are raised in Danvers over the latest raise granted Town Manager Wayne Marquis. But nothing has reached the level of furor seen in Phoenix over the recent City Council vote granting City Manager David Cavazos a 33 percent raise, which hiked his salary by $78,000 to $315,000 a year. (The city manager in this reporter’s new hometown of Peoria, Ariz., was recently granted a much more reasonable 2.5 percent raise, his first since assuming the post in 2008.)

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Bay State voters who recently approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes might take note of the charade a similar law has spawned here in the Grand Canyon State.

While the law is ostensibly intended to provide relief to those suffering from serious maladies like cancer and glaucoma, Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts revealed this week that 89.8 percent of those who have received prescriptions cite “severe and chronic pain” as the reason they need access to the drug. Furthermore, a mere 10 doctors account for 46 percent of the prescriptions written thus far.

Roberts say she herself might qualify under the “severe and chronic pain” category as a result of her having to cover the very kooky Arizona Legislature.

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The latest mall shooting by a deranged man in Portland, Ore., should once again raise questions about the easy availability of firearms in the U.S.

Some say having more people bearing arms makes us safer, and you never hear of any problems at gun shows or firearms stores. Try telling that to the loved ones of the 7-year-old boy killed last week when his father’s handgun accidentally discharged while he was getting into his truck outside a western Pennsylvania gun store.

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Nelson Benton spent 40 years covering politics on the North Shore before retiring from The Salem News. Contact him at nelson.benton3@gmail.com.