DRACUT -- Matt Sheehan will not go unchallenged in his quest to return to the School Committee for a third term.

Michelle McCarthy, a former three-year president of the Parker Avenue School Parent-Teacher Organization and a stay-at-home mom, is running for School Committee, she announced.

McCarthy, 33, is a Billerica native and seven-year resident who moved with her family into their Homefield Avenue residence in August, 2007.

She and her husband Dan have a son, 10, and daughter, 7, who attend Dracut public schools.

"I'm very involved in my kids' school. I talk to a lot of parents," said McCarthy, a stay-at-home mom making her first run for elective office. "This is a whole new ball game for me."

McCarthy plans to make her campaign all about what she has to offer the board, rather than finding any fault with Sheehan, she said.

"Superintendent (Steven) Stone came in to a hot mess when he took this job, and he is definitely leading the way, and the School Committee is doing a great job, too, don't get me wrong. But if you really want to make a few changes, my thought is, why not run for office yourself, and help out?"

Among the issues McCarthy would like to focus on as a board member is in the schools' redistricting, grade-reconfiguration, four-school building, K through 12 plan that Stone recently proposed to begin in September.

"My daughter is one of the kids that's been moved around several times and if we redistrict again, she will be moving around to her third school by second grade. That's huge. It's important for her and the other school kids to have stability. So redistricting will be something that's on my agenda for sure."

McCarthy picked up her nomination papers at Town Hall on Wednesday afternoon, three business days before the March 17 deadline for candidates to place their names on the May 5 ballot.

Had some other candidate already declared their intention to oppose Sheehan in this election, McCarthy may not have made her run, she said.

"Absolutely it did," she said regarding whether Sheehan's unopposed status influenced her decision. "Why should you get into office for no effort?"

Her husband was extremely supportive of her decision to run, as were her two children, she said.

McCarthy has not yet decided how much money she can afford to spend on a campaign for school committee.

She plans to set up a Facebook page for her candidacy, she said.

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