Wilkie, DiRocco, Nangle Win Re-Election; Koufogazos Claims School Board Seat (VIDEOS)
May 09, 2018 03:05PM ● Published by Bill Gilman
School Committee member Joe Wilkie.
Longtime Selectman Joe DiRocco won a sixth term on the board, turning back a challenge from Phil Thibault and John Joyce. George Nangle easily won another five-year term on the Housing Authority, defeating Fred Spicer.
With two seats up for grabs on the School Committee, incumbent Joe Wilkie was the top vote-getter with 1,788 votes. But challenger Sue Koufogazos scored the upset, placing second with 1,717 votes to unseat incumbent Dan O'Connell (1,389).
"You work as hard as you possibly can and you've got this goal and this dream but it's up to the voters and you have to wait for those results," said Koufogazos. "So to see them come in and to see that I was doing very well was very gratifying. It's humbling and I'm really appreciative."
Koufogazos described her campaign as "grass roots effort" and credited her team of friends, family and other volunteers for helping her get her message out to the voters. A mother of three children who attended Dracut Public Schools, Koufogazos stressed her passion for special education throughout the campaign. She said she is looking forward to working with the district's incoming Special Education director to look at how Dracut's SpEd program can be "enhanced."
"You want to to take it and say, 'what do we do well and what can we do better?' And that's not just Special Education. That's across all areas of curriculum," she said.
O'Connell was gracious in defeat and said he expected Koufogazos would be an effective member of the committee.
"Sue's a great person. There were three good candidates, in my opinion and the town's going to be fine, no matter what," said O'Connell. "I hope all five of them can work together, keep things going in the right direction and keep the momentum going that we started."
O'Connell said this is likely is last election and that he would be stepping back, completely, from his involvement with the schools and town government.
Wilkie, who was elected to his third term on the committee, agreed that the district is heading in a positive direction but said the committee and the administration need to continue to work together to tackle significant challenges over the next three years.
"The three things I focused on and I believe are the focus of the school district right now are student achievement, our finances and technology," said Wilkie. "The technology platform we've built out over the last six years for the students, the teachers and the parents is all going in the right direction."
The most contentious race on the ballot was the three-way race for DiRocco's seat on the Board of Selectmen. In particular, Thibault and DiRocco, and their surrogates, waged a war of words across social media in the weeks leading up to the election.
In the end, DiRocco scored a comfortable, if not overwhelming, victory with 1,526 votes (50.3 percent). Thibault was a strong second with 1,221 votes (40.3 percent), with Joyce a distant third with 222 votes (7.3 percent).
In the race for the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, Nangle coasted to an easy victory with 1,847 votes (60.9 percent) to Spicer's 1,002 (33.0 percent).
Spicer ran a spirited race, almost exclusively utilizing social media and public access television to get his message out. He didn't rule out challenging other members of the DHA Board of Commissioners in future elections and said he would continue his efforts to hold the board accountable.
"i intend to be at every meeting, analyze what they're doing, keep track of them, see what they do. Because folks, your Dracut Housing Authority is in bad shape," said Spicer. "I'll be the watchdog of the Dracut Housing Authority, you can guarantee it."
According to the Town Clerk's Office, voter turnout was just 15 percent with 3,033 of the town's 21,225 registered voters casting ballots.
In uncontested races:
James Nolan and Gretchen Mayall won seats on the Parker Library Board of Trustees.
William "Zee" Zielinski was re-elected as a Dracut Water Supply District Commissioner.
Peter Natsios was elected as Dracut Water Supply District Moderator.
Dracut Election results at Town Hall
Former School Committee member Dan O'Connell reacts to his loss.
Joe Wilkie reacts to being re-elected to the Dracut School Committee.
Sue Koufogazos reacts to winning a seat on the Dracut School Committee.