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.