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Mayor Seeks Authority to Appoint Interim State Rep

Bettencourt says he's concerned at the diminished voice Peabody will have on Beacon Hill until the winner of the special election is sworn into office.

State lawmakers have shown no indication they would temporarily fill the seat left vacant by the death of state Rep. Joyce Spiliotis in November, so now Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt is asking them to allow him to do that.

Bettencourt sent a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick this week, urging him to authorize Bettencourt to make an interim appointment to the post until the winner of the April 2 special election is sworn into office.

He said that person would pledge to stay out of this special election for the 12th Essex District seat.

“This individual would be someone with familiarity with the state budget process as well as constituent service,” Bettencourt wrote.

He did not name an individual in the letter and did not cite a precedent, legal or otherwise, for Patrick to grant his request.

Bettencourt did say he is “greatly concerned” at the diminished representation for Peabody in the legislature, especially during the upcoming budget season.

“Particularly during the early portion of the legislative session when your budget proposal is released and district budget priorities articulated, I feel the city of Peabody will be at significant disadvantage,” he wrote.

Bettencourt also took a moment to praise Spiliotis again, saying Peabody "lost a true representative of the people" with her death.

"Her commitment to public service and love of the city of Peabody were an inspiration to all those who knew her," he wrote.

Bettencourt made no mention in his letter of Peabody’s remaining delegation on Beacon Hill – state Rep. Ted Speliotis, who only represents West Peabody as a portion of the 13th Essex District, and new Sen. Joan Lovely, who is from Salem.

Speliotis, in an interview with the Salem News, said Peabody has lost two great champions on Beacon Hill with the retirement of Sen. Fred Berry and the death of Spiliotis, both lifelong Peabody residents. Speliotis also grew up in Peabody.

He said he doesn’t believe Patrick has the power to grant the request, noting the legislature controls the special election process and suggested Bettencourt resubmit his letter to House Speaker Robert Deleo, according to the Salem News.

Berry told the paper the same thing, adding that he didn’t recall ever having an interim appointment for a House or Senate seat during his three decades on Beacon Hill.

He told the Salem News he hoped Lovely might give extra attention to Peabody over the next few months, as he did at one point when Beverly state Rep. Jerry Parisella was stationed in Iraq with the U.S Army Reserves.

Karen McT January 19, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Um, isn't the mayor a lawyer? Shouldn't he know that the office of state representative is established in the state constitution and only the state constitution can grant the authority for the filling of vacancies and that by M.G.L. c. 54 §141 the legislature has specified a special election, and only a special election as the means to fill a vacancy in the Great and General Court? Does he understand Civics 001?
Russ January 19, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Karen, Thanks for the clarification.
Saber Walsh January 20, 2013 at 04:46 AM
Almost all of our elected officials are lawyers, and most don't seem to have read the U.S. Constitution, so we'll give Mayor Bettencourt a "pass" on this one :-)
Joseph Maio January 21, 2013 at 04:52 AM
Hey He just wants to put one of his law partners in there! This guy is bad for Peabody. He is going to bring so much business in you think you have traffic now. He cant be to smart his life ambitions he said was to be the mayor of Peabody. Very low standards. I at least wanted to be president. I don't think there will be a second term when the truth comes out like how he sat on his hands when him and His law partener who is the city solicitor New about the flooding and codes being broken on Rte 1 at 128 newburt st Marchese construction project shut it down do to being exposed with the videos i got posted. Ya but he claims he moved fast he new in October my parents got flooded on DEC 27 2012 again yup moved like the turtles in the Comcast commercials. Was going to have a meeting of all city dept heads about this changed his mind told me through Tom Gould for my parents to get a lawyer city cant help them.

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