DRACUT — The ballot is set for the town’s upcoming election, and though it will only include one contested race, there will be some new faces on local boards and committees.
The election was originally scheduled for May 4 but is now expected to occur on June 29 per a recent vote of the Board of Selectmen, which is contingent on pending state legislation allowing such postponements in light of the coronavirus pandemic. As the latest date to return nomination papers was March 16, no additional candidates will be added to the ballot before the polls open, according to Town Clerk Kathleen Graham.
Five candidates have returned nomination papers to run for the Board of Selectmen, vying for two seats currently held by incumbents Tami Dristiliaris and Alison Hughes, who are not seeking re-election. The final candidate roster includes former Greater Lowell Technical School Committee Chairman Joseph Espinola; local financial services professional Alison Genest; Dracut Planning Board Chairman Mark Pease; Zoning Board of Appeals member Heather Santiago Hutchings; and Master Planning Committee Chairman Philippe Thibault.
A sixth person, perennial Board of Selectmen candidate John Joyce, withdrew nomination papers to run for the board but did not return them, according to Graham.
Dristiliaris has served on the board for six years and said she is stepping away from town government for the time being to devote more attention to her law firm and family. She noted that residents can expect to see her name on a ballot again sometime in the future.
“While serving this town for the past six years, I was always true to my beliefs in advocating for the citizens and taxpayers of Dracut. I will continue to donate my time and efforts to Dracut in any way that I can,” she said. “Thank you to my supporters.”
Hughes, who has also served for six years, said she appreciates the support she’s received while on the board and plans to continue her involvement in town activities.
“At this point in time with the demands on me at my work and being a single mom of three kids, I felt that I couldn’t give the Board of Selectmen the time and attention that the position warrants, and once there was a good pool of candidates, I felt comfortable stepping down,” she said.
She noted that she will continue serving for an undetermined amount of time, as elected officials whose terms are set to end in May are expected to remain in their roles until the election is able to occur.
Barring any write-in campaigns, the School Committee will see an uncontested race, as committee member Sabrina Heisey has not filed for re-election and only one candidate, Renee Young, returned nomination papers for the seat. Young, who has lived in Dracut all her life and graduated from Dracut High School, said her oldest child is set to start kindergarten in town this upcoming school year, and she wants to focus on supporting and retaining teachers and providing more opportunities for students.
“As a teacher in a different school system, I know that what I have available to me to teach my students is far more than what my own children are going to have in Dracut,” Young said. “And while I understand that funding is not something that will be able to easily be changed in the school system, there’s much more to keeping teachers than just money.”
Heisey was elected to the committee in 2017. Shortly after, in 2018, she mounted a campaign challenging Rep. Colleen Garry in the primary to represent the 36th Middlesex District, but was soundly defeated 3,970 to 1,438. Heisey was not reachable for more information about her decision not to run for re-election to the committee.
It’s likely there will also be a new face on the Dracut Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners, though it’s one familiar to Town Hall. Former Health Director Tom Bomil is running unopposed for the seat currently held by Chairman Russell Taylor, who did not withdraw or return nomination papers.
Bomil said he’s always had the “political bug” and is “ready to get back to the town” after previously working in local government for 35 years.
“Obviously the big thing in this town is senior housing, and it’s lacking and it’s something that hopefully we can get something going off the ground and work to get the seniors more housing,” he said. “That’s probably my No. 1 priority.”
Also running uncontested are Linda Trouville for Trustee of the Public Library and William Morin for Commissioner of the Dracut Water Supply District. Graham, the longtime town clerk, has also filed for re-election and is running unopposed.