DRACUT -- Joe Wilkie and Dan O'Connell won election Monday to the Dracut School Committee in a three-way race for two seats over third-place finisher John Kelly.
Wilkie received 2,364 votes and O'Connell received 2,064, besting Kelly's 1,331 votes. There were also 747 blank ballots cast, and 76 write-in votes in a School Committee race that featured three first-time candidates.
"I'm happy and relieved that it went the way we hoped it would," said O'Connell, who rose at 4:30 a.m. Monday to campaign through Election Day until the polls closed at 8 p.m. "We have our first School Committee meeting (Tuesday), and the plan is to go right to work."
Wilkie, the top vote-getter, said he felt gratified by the outcome of the race that he had been inspired to enter while acting as chairman of the Friends of Dracut High School's successful push to pass the $60 million high-school renovation project last May.
"It's very similar to the good feeling of last year," said Wilkie. "I'm looking forward to bringing those positive and productive feelings that surrounded our Friends of Dracut High School group last year to the board. The opportunity here is to work together and see what good things we can do for our town."
During longtime friends O'Connell and Wilkie's joint post-election celebration at the Sportszone Restaurant Monday night, Kelly dropped in to congratulate both winning candidates, and shake their hands.
"It was a clean race. I wish you the best," Kelly told O'Connell and Wilkie, who congratulated Kelly on running a strong campaign.
Wilkie and O'Connell assumed the School Committee seats that were vacated by longtime members Bonnie Elie and Ron Mercier, who both opted not to run again for personal reasons.
Mercier, who attended Wilkie and O'Connell's victory celebration, predicted both will do "wonderful" work on the School Committee.
"They may be new to the board, but they both have lots of experience in listening to the concerns of young families in town, and they have the knowledge to hit the ground running. The town is fortunate to have two guys like these on the board."
Among their first tasks will be choosing a successor for outgoing Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott, who is taking over the Framingham School District in July. A screening committee received 29 applications for Scott's job.
In the only two other contested races on the ballot, incumbent Dracut Water Supply District commissioner William "Zee" Zielinski won re-election by receiving 1,460 votes, defeating challenger and former Dracut Water Supply District Superintendent Gary McCarthy, who received 908 votes.
In the two-way race for one open seat on the Dracut Housing Authority, first-time candidate Debra DeWitt-Ahearn won election with 1,983 votes over James Quealy, who received 1,022 votes.
DeWitt-Ahearn said among the first motions she plans to make as the newest Housing Authority commissioner is to ask the Dracut Fire Department about scheduling regular fire drills for at the DHA site, as requested by some of the elderly residents.
Running unopposed, Paul Morin was re-elected to the Greater Lowell Technical School Committee, with 2,529 votes; and Selectman Joe DiRocco was returned to that board with 2,457 votes.
According to the polling figures provided by Town Clerk Kathy Graham, the turnout was 3,280 of Dracut's 19,285 registered voters, or 17 percent.
Follow John Collins on Twitter at johncolowellsun.