By Amaris Castillo
Incumbent Selectman Joseph DiRocco Jr. successfully defended the lone open seat on the board in Monday’s Town Election, garnering 1,526 votes to challengers Phil Thibault’s 1,221 and John Joyce’s 222, according to unofficial results.
Fifteen percent of Dracut’s 21,225 registered voters went to the polls, according to the Town Clerk’s Office.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” DiRocco said. “We worked hard, and the outcome was what we had hoped for. You’re always glad when you win, of course. I think my whole group worked hard.”
The selectman made a pointed jab at Thibault, who chairs the Master Plan Committee and sits on the Permanent Building Committee.
“I think my opponent has too many conflicts, being an architect. … I think people finally saw through that,” DiRocco said.
Thibault declined to comment in response to the selectman’s statement, but did say Monday night he was trying to let the results sink in.
“I’m not sure how much I have to say except, certainly, congratulations to Mr. DiRocco for his re-election,” Thibault said. “You take your victory with the same emotions that you take your defeat.”
During his campaign, DiRocco had repeatedly cast doubt on Thibault’s ability to be a selectman without conflicts of interest. Thibault had always denied he would have conflicts if elected.
“I have no conflict of interest,” Thibault said at a recent debate hosted by The Sun of Lowell. “If Mr. DiRocco’s definition of conflict of interest is my interest within the community, I can see why he is disinterested in this community and he has no conflicts.”
If there was one thing the three candidates could all agree on, it was the goal of furthering the town’s economic development. Thibault had said he wanted to make Dracut a more vibrant community and was interested in the smaller shops in town, such as those in the Navy Yard and Collinsville. DiRocco has stated that Dracut’s economic development is going well, and Joyce said his first priority if elected would have been to bring “big business” to town, like Target or another huge corporation.
A few hours before the polling stations closed, Dracut resident Steven Plante said his decision to vote Monday for Thibault came pretty easily.
“I think he has some good ideas for commercial space in the community, help them build more development, if you will — smarter development, if you will. Smarter growth,” Plante said after walking out of a polling station at Richardson Middle School. “I live in the Navy Yard myself, and so I really want the area to change. There’s too many vacancies over there.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.