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BY DENNIS SHAUGHNESSEY, Valley Dispatch Staff

DRACUT — Ken Cunha, who served one term on the Board of Selectmen but did not run for re-election last May, bested his rival, Philippe Thibault, in a special election Nov. 1 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Jack DiTillio.

“I certainly intend to hit the ground running and pick up where I left off in May,” said Cunha, who ended up with 1,021 votes to Thibault’s 522.

Just 1,568 residents — 8.5 percent of the town’s 19,000 registered voters — turned up at the polls in what was one of the most lackluster races in memory.

Thibault — an architect who’s chairman of the Planning Board and a member of the Permanent Building Committee — did very little campaigning.

Dracut Town Clerk Kathleen Graham said the cost of the special election was about $8,000.

Those who did vote cast their ballots for Cunha by an almost 2-to-1 margin.

Cunha took all but one of the town’s 10 precincts.

After DiTillio’s death, Cunha was told by DiTillio’s widow, Kathleen, that her husband expressed his desire for Cunha to run.

“How do you say no?” he said at the time of his announcement.

Speaking before his supporters at the American Legion Hall on Broadway Road after the votes were tallied, Cunha said his first order of business would be a push toward a new Town Hall.