DRACUT — In a three-way race for two open seats on the School Committee, incumbent School Committee Chair Joe Wilkie finished first with 1,788 votes, followed by Susan Koufogazos with 1,717 votes. Incumbent Dan O’Connell lost his seat by coming in third with 1,389, according to unofficial results.
Fifteen percent of Dracut’s 21,225 registered voters went to the polls, according to the Town Clerk’s Office.
“Just excited,” Wilkie said Monday night from a gathering of his and O’Connell’s supporters at Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut. “I think it was a good race and there’s a lot of work to do. Excited to see what’s ahead with the new committee and I welcome Mrs. Koufogazos. I look forward to working with her.”
Wilkie said he’s also looking forward to working on three main things: student achievement, technology, and making sure that Dracut Public Schools’ finances continue to move towards an upward trajectory.
“I’m incredibly excited,” Koufogazos said in a packed Primo Pizza after the results came in. “This has been a long process and I’ve had some really amazing support from my family, from my friends and, most of all, of course, from the voters in Dracut, and this is going to be an amazing year, and I’m really looking forward to this. It’s very humbling to think that people would support me running for the first time, and I appreciate their confidence.”
Koufogazos, a longtime resident whose children attended Dracut schools, said during her campaign that she wanted to bring forth her 22 years of experience as a parent and also as a volunteer in the district. The assistant buyer for North Billerica-based Potpourri Group also previously served on the Greater Lowell Technical High School Council.
On Monday night, the energy inside Primo Pizza was electric as the candidate’s supporters crowded around a cardboard poster where Koufogazos’ co-worker and friend, Colleen Curley, had written down the unofficial results. Curley, a Dracut resident, worked with Koufogazos’ cousin, Cathy Koufogazos, and others on the campaign.
“I am blown away,” Curley said. “She did amazing, amazing. I’m so proud of her.”
O’Connell on Monday night congratulated Wilkie and Koufogazos.
“Wish them the best of luck,” he said. “I hope they can all work well together.”
A few hours before the unofficial results were posted, both Wilkie and O’Connell held their own campaign signs and each other’s as they stood on the sidewalk along Arlington Street, outside the M.G. Parker Memorial Library.
“It feels pretty good today,” Wilkie said. “A lot of support, a lot of positive vibes.”
O’Connell said he was hearing the voter totals were low by early Monday evening.
“It’s a nice day, so you figure a lot people would come out, but I think that keeps people away,” O’Connell said.
Over at Justus C. Richardson Middle School, Selectman Jesse Forcier said he voted for Koufogazos and Wilkie.
“I’ve just been so impressed with Sue. Back in my days when I was on the Planning Board, Sue always came and spoke before us — very, very well-informed. Always had her facts,” Forcier said. “I’ve just been impressed with her for as long as I’ve been involved.”
On Wilkie, Forcier described the School Committee chair as “really hyper-focused” on Dracut Public Schools.
At the Council on Aging, resident Kim Donovan said she voted for Koufogazos.
“Change,” Donovan said when asked why she voted for her. “I think everything needs change across the board.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.