With longtime Senator Frederick Berry (D-Peabody) planning to retire after he completes his 15th term in office, the wide open seat at the State House is getting a fair amount of consideration from local politicians.
Berry, 61, again in the 2nd Essex District on Nov. 17 during a fundraiser his charitable fund was sponsoring.
As could be expected, even with several months to go before nomination papers are due, speculation is running rampant on who would make for a good candidate to replace Berry or simply be interested in running.
So here's the tally thus far of who's in or out of consideration to represent Peabody, Salem, Danvers, Beverly and Topsfield in the future. Our poll below includes those individuals who have indicated some level of interest in the seat.
Fellow Peabody native Ted Speliotis (D-Danvers), says he is seriously considering trading his seniority in the House of Representatives to make a bid for the Senate. The fact that he has represented a fair number of the same constituent base in Danvers, Topsfield and Peabody for 23 years only gives him an edge, he believes.
Speliotis, in the 13th Essex District, currently chairs the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.
The other serious candidate to emerge thus far is Governor's Councillor Mary-Ellen Manning.
Manning is also a Peabody native and has a law firm in Salem. She currently represents the 5th District (Essex County and a few other towns north of Boston) on the Governor's Council.
She says she has already reached out to sitting mayors to talk local needs over a cup of coffee.
Peabody Mayor Michael Bonfanti appears poised somewhere between strong consideration and possible interest in the seat, along with a few other individuals so far.
At 67, Bonfanti says he still has some political ambitions after he retires from the corner office at the end of the year. Bonfanti, who has a lot of admiration for Berry, says he's considering a run and doing some self-evaluation.
Bonfanti said it was time for him to move on from the mayor's office, a job he has loved and still loves. He believes he did a "pretty good" job over the past 10 years, but it's time to try new things and let some new blood in.
Bonfanti said he has come to appreciate the difference in perspective at the state level and the ability to take some leadership in areas he feels are lacking now.
Two other possible Democratic candidates for Berry's seat are Gary Barrett, former district director for U.S. Congressman John Tierney, and Salem City Councilor Joan Lovely, according to the Salem News.
The Boston Globe reported that Barrett, the interim director of the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development, is considering a run.
Lovely, a popular at-large councilor, is a former State House employee and lost a bid to state Rep. John Keenan (D-Salem) to replace J. Michael Ruane for the 7th Essex District seat when Ruane retired n 2004.
As for Keenan, he quickly took himself out of the running for the Senate, releasing a statement the .
Keenan noted he ran for that seat in 1994, but "timing is everything" and now is not in the best interests of his young family or his district. He does plan to seek re-election next year.
The third and remaining member of Peabody's state delegation, Democrat Joyce Spiliotis, says she has no aspirations for the Senate. She only plans to run for her seat for the 12th Essex District again in 2012.
So far, the only Republican to report he is considering running is Beverly's Richard Jolitz, who handily lost to Berry in 2010.
Several other names have been tossed around as potential candidates by political speculators on the North Shore, but those individuals have not declared their intentions yet. A particularly active discussion on the topic can be found over at the Blue Mass Group. Across the aisle, the Red Mass Group is also talking, but no new names have been mentioned.