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Election 2018: Thibault Focused On Zoning Changes, Responsible Growth In Selectmen Bid

Apr 23, 2018 03:12PM ● By Bill Gilman
Philippe Thibault's campaign signs in his race for a seat on the Board of Selectmen feature the phrase "Building a Community Together."
To Thibault, it's more than a catchy slogan. An architect by profession, Thibault sees everything in terms of construction, whether it be a building, a town or productive relationships.
"On every committee I've been on, I've been elected chairman at some point, except for the Permanent Building Committee, where I'm the junior member," said Thibault. "I really don't care for the politics of making decisions. Let's argue the facts, hash it out, and come to a decision."
Thibault is making his fourth run for a seat on the Board of Selectmen. He and John Joyce are challenging incumbent Joseph DiRocco in a three-person race for one three-year term. Thibault said he doesn't believe the current board is doing a poor job and that each selectman has a unique background and skillset. But he also believes without fresh perspective and fresh ideas, any board can grow stagnant.
"i come to it saying as a selectmen, this level of experience I have and this level of ideas i can bring to the board would be (a positive)," he said. "I'd like to see if it prompts new ideas and prompts new directions. I wouldn't necessarily be a force for change but I'd be a catalyst for change."
I don't think Joe DiRocco has been bringing a lot to the table," said Thibault. "i dont think he has had a lot of new ideas. I think he has had no new ideas. He's  just had old ideas."
Thibault, 54, is a lifelong Dracut resident, with a lengthy resume of community service. In addition to the Permanent Building Committee, he has served on the Planning Board, the Master Plan Committee, the Capital Planning Committee and has represented Dracut on the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments.
He touts his involvement in several town building and renovation projects, including Town Hall, Parker Library and the new Fire Station being built in Collinsville.
"That (Fire Station) was something I had really pushed for three years ago," said Thibault. "There has been a lot of talk about it and people were saying, 'oh, if we can only find the land.' I took it upon myself to show the town that they already owned the land they needed for a station. I drew up some quick sketches and kind of got the ball rolling. Hopefully it comes to fruition in the next year."
Thibault said he is committed to helping Dracut grow in positive ways and has not been discouraged by his election losses of the past.
"I may have lost but I've never walked away. I've always stuck around and put my ideas out there," he said, adding that he hopes that serving on the board would increase the speed with which his ideas and suggestions are taken up.
"They are eventually taken up. Ultimately been proven to be good ideas. Would like to see them taken up quicker."
During past campaigns, Thibault said he has raised the issues of revamping the Master Plan (which hadn't been updated in 30 years) and addressing the growing need for senior housing.
"One of the things Joe DiRocco said (recently) was that senior housing is back on the front burner," said Thibault. "Well, it's never off the stove for me. Senior housing has always been very important to me."
Thibault said he has been impressed with the leadership of Town Manager James Duggan, especially in regard to promoting economic development. He would like to see continued focus on growth in Dracut's more urban areas such as the Naval Yard area, Collinsville and Broadway, while continuing to protect the town's rural areas.
"The big thing is that after the Master Plan is developed, we need to take a look the zoning bylaws and really clean house," said Thibault. "The zoning should be targeted to those area that area already built up. The biggest challenge is new growth, the economic development is going gangbusters but the zoning bylaws are really going to hamper the (momentum of) growth in those areas of the Naval Yard and Collnsville. Some of the bylaws just don't make sense."
Thibault and his wife, Lorraine, have been married 25 years. They have two sons, 23 and 21.
Dracut voters will go to the polls May 7.

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