Peabody Republican Leah Cole may be the youngest and more politically inexperienced candidate by far in this race, but that doesn't mean she hasn't staked out her positions on major hot-button issues.
Cole, 24 and a Licensed Practical Nurse, formally announced her candidacy for State Representative on Wednesday, saying she's in this race for working class families and to give others the same chance to pursue the "American Dream" she's had.
She comes off strongly against recent proposed tax increases by Gov. Deval Patrick and what she views as detrimental regulation of the healthcare field.
“My parents always instilled in me the importance of living within one’s means and being fiscally and morally responsible," Cole said. "My vision for the Commonwealth is much like the American Dream. That dream is to have the opportunity to start with basically nothing, work hard and achieve success and reach your goals."
She said her generation and future ones won't be able to pursue that dream unless they get politically involved because "current leaders continually increase our debt and steal our liberties.”
As for taxes, Cole said, people are "struggling to get by now" and "suffocating" under governmental regulations. She said the government is just "out of touch" and keeps spending taxpayers' hard earned money.
In regard to healthcare, Cole argues that increased regulations just result in higher costs and lower quality care.
Cole points to her experience in healthcare, concern at new tax hikes and a desire to be a voice for other working-class citizens as motivation for running.
She touts the fact that she's not a "seasoned politician" and brings some new blood to the race.
Cole says she turned in the required amount of signatures to get on the ballot and already kicked off her campaign Saturday morning at Red's Kitchen & Tavern. She has also established a campaign website and Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Cole currently works as an LPN at a Danvers practice and attended the Medical Professional Institute in Malden. Before that, she worked as a TSA agent at Logan Airport.
She will face off against fellow GOP candidate Greg Bunn in a primary on March 5, and the winner of that contest will go up against Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne and independent candidate Dave Gravel in the final special election on April 2.
The 12th Essex District seat in the Mass. House of Representatives was left vacant with the death of Peabody native Joyce Spiliotis in November. The district covers wards 1-4 and Ward 5 Precinct 1 and 3.