Peabody City Councilor Dave Gravel is running for the legislative seat left vacant by the death of state Rep. Joyce Spilliotis.
Gravel has filed a nominating petition with 987 signatures - significantly more than the 150 he needs to put him on the ballot in the April 2 special election to replace Spilliotis in the 12th Essex District which covers most of Peabody.
“I think the reason why I decided to get into the race is because I’ve been involved in at local level in Peabody for many, many years,” Gravel said. “I think we have a lot of opportunities for growth and I’d like to be a part in making that happen.”
Gravel has served on the Peabody City Council as a councilor-at-large since 2007. He was elected council president in 2010. He was also elected and served on the Peabody School Committee from 1995 to 2003. During that time he chaired the Finance Committee, the Negotiations Committee, and the Brown School Building Committee.
Although the special election is almost three months away, there are some concerns about appointing a replacement for the time being.
Last week, Mayor Edward Bettencourt sent a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick to let him appoint an interim replacement for Spiliotis. The interim replacement would agree not to run in the special election.
The governor's office is checking whether he can allow such an appointment.
“Although I respect the special election process, I am greatly concerned about the lack of representation for Peabody during the interim,’’ the mayor said.
“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 an a significant disadvantage.”
Gravel said he isn't sure an interim replacement is needed.
“Given the compression rate that they’ve put on this election, you’re talking about a total of 90 days we’re now down to,” Gravel said. “I don’t know that not having a representative is going to be as detrimental, say if they waited until June, July, August.”