DRACUT -- Tony Archinski topped the ticket in a five-way race for two seats on the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday in an election that saw incumbent Selectman George Malliaros lose his bid for re-election to a third term.

Dracut selectman’s race ticket-topper Tony Archinski, left, celebrates with supporters Lenny Wagner, center, of Dracut and Chris Sicuranza of Salem
Dracut selectman's race ticket-topper Tony Archinski, left, celebrates with supporters Lenny Wagner, center, of Dracut and Chris Sicuranza of Salem at the Dracut House of Pizza after results showed the former Dracut police officer claimed one of two open seats. SUN/Julia Malakie

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Selectmen Chairwoman Cathy Richardson nosed past Malliaros, 2,285 to 2,219, to finish second and retain her seat.

The School Committee also saw upheaval due to a decisive victory by first-time candidate Betsy Lynn Murphy, who topped the ticket with 3,100 votes. Incumbent Michael McNamara finished second with 3,068, while incumbent Michael Miles finished third, well behind at 2,110 votes, losing his seat.

In the selectman's race, three years after Archinski fell just short of getting elected to the board in a close third-place finish behind incumbents John Zimini and Bob Cox, the former Dracut police lieutenant rode a wave of area endorsements and the support of friends, neighbors and members of the police fraternity in receiving 2,360 votes.

Challenger and first-time candidate Tami Dristilliaris received 2,008 votes.

First-time candidate and attorney Gil Nason finished in fifth place with 471 votes.

"Now what we have to do is get the work done," Archinski told a roomful of supporters at the Dracut House of Pizza after the results were announced. "We've got an awful lot of important issues coming up -- the warrant articles at Town Meeting, the hiring of a new town manager. So there's a lot of work to be done, and I'm going to get working tomorrow morning.

Incumbent Selectman Cathy Richardson, center, who took second place to win re-election to the board, celebrates with Dracut Republican Town Committee Chair
Incumbent Selectman Cathy Richardson, center, who took second place to win re-election to the board, celebrates with Dracut Republican Town Committee Chair Yvonne Thurston and vice chair Brian Genest at the Blue Angus. SUN/Julia Malakie

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While Archinski expressed how gratified he was to win election on his second try, he also remarked on the irony of his having gotten more total votes in 2011 when he came in third.

Richardson, who edged out fellow Incumbent Malliaros by 66 votes, said Malliaros paid a visit to her post-election party at the Blue Angus to offer his congratulations.

"It was very close, but I did get in, that's the main thing," said Richardson. "We've got another three years of work to do, and I'm glad to be able to go back and finish the work we started."

Hiring a new town manager to replace Dennis Piendak is the first important piece of business, Richardson noted. Currently the board chairman, Richardson disclosed she intends to ask the board to retain her as chair at the selectmen's next meeting.

Malliaros declared after the votes were counted that after four election campaigns and two terms in office, "at this point I'd say my political career is over," he said. "I originally got in (to politics) because I wanted to build a park for kids, and I did that (McAnespie Park)."

"I'm happy that Cathy won, she's a good person, and I wish Tony nothing but the best," added Malliaros. "The town will be well served,"

State Rep. Colleen Garry, who was on hand at Town Hall to hear the election vote totals announced by Town Clerk Kathy Graham, said it was not a surprise that Murphy topped the ticket in the School Committee race, distancing herself from incumbent Miles by nearly 1,000 votes.

Betsy Lynn Murphy topped school-board race.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
Betsy Lynn Murphy topped school-board race.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.

"Betsy's a longtime PTO member in Dracut, very active in the school community, and the PTO's presence was huge today," said Garry.

Murphy celebrated her victory in her first political race ever at the Sports Zone surrounded by family and friends that included her core support group, which she labeled her "Team of Six."

"My campaign was about a town-wide issue; this wasn't just an issue for parents who have children in the schools," said Murphy, referring to her outspoken support of a $2.9 million override of Proposition 2 /12, a Town Meeting warrant article co-authored by School Committee members Dan O'Connell and Joe Wilkie.

"Many people came out to vote in favor of my candidacy, I presume, because they're concerned about their home values and they care about and kids' education," added Murphy.

Winning selectman candidate Tony Archinski with his son Adam, 14, and daughter Ashley, 16, at Dracut House of Pizza, after the final results were
Winning selectman candidate Tony Archinski with his son Adam, 14, and daughter Ashley, 16, at Dracut House of Pizza, after the final results were in. SUN/Julia Malakie

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
 "This is a wonderful town and great place to raise a family, (but) the issue became that we just could not properly fund our educational system any more. I had full faith that message would resonate with people."

"I'm very excited," she said. "There's a lot of work ahead of us, but that's OK."

Total ballots cast in Dracut was 5,347, out of 20,271 registered voters, or 27 percent turnout.

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