Five running for School Committee in this April’s election

Mar 1, 2023

Five candidates will be on the ballot for School Committee in the annual Town Election, scheduled for April 4 — the only contested race this year.

Running are incumbent Kathleen Amaral and challengers Elizabeth Couglin, Erica Lyn Morency, Troy Tufano, and Lynne Turner. Mary Waite, who was elected to her first term in 2020, chose not to seek re-election.

The two top vote-getters in the town election will win the two three-year terms on the committee.

Amaral has served on the School Committee since 2017, where she has prioritized advocacy for special needs students and engagement between schools and families. She also serves on the school district's Special Education Parent Advisory Council.

She said her reason for running is the same as in 2017: out of a “deep interest in public service.”

If elected to a third term, Amaral said her top priorities are building upon the school district’s mental health services and “keeping a close on on two high-level leadership transitions” — the superintendent and pupil support services administrator. 

“We must prioritize our commitment to our mission and values as a district to ensure this new leadership will lead us to continue a trajectory of student-centered strategic planning and success,” she said.

Another priority, Amral said, is “confronting a daunting fiscal reality” in the coming budgets. She noted that funds from the federal government’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund are expected to end soon and “minimal funding increase” relative to the proposed FY24 budget due to parameters set by the state’s Student Opportunity Act.

“We must plan thoughtfully and creatively as we move forward to ensure we do the best for our district, including students, our staff, and our physical buildings,” she said.

Turner ran in last year’s town election, but lost to incumbents John Nunes and Chris Oliver. She has also worked as a school teacher in New Mexico and Massachusetts. One of her goals for this year’s election, according to her campaign website, is to incorporate “financial literacy” into the high school’s curriculum.

Another focus, she said in a statement, is “applying a common-sense approach to ‘planning for bright futures’ for all students.”

“I believe that our schools should provide politically unbiased education and help our students build strong basic skills through "Curriculum to Educate, Not Advocate,’” Turner said.  “By doing so, we can ensure that students develop their own critical thinking skills and become well-rounded individuals, who will be prepared to tackle the challenges of the future.”

Morency works as a fitness coach who specializes in health, weight loss, and nutrition programs. One of her top priorities, according to her campaign’s Facebook page, is to maximize grant opportunities for the school district, and continue to affirm the high school’s Indian name and logo.

Tufano, according to his LinkedIn profile, works as a political consultant. He is also the husband of Library Trustee Lisa Tufano.

Coughlin worked for more than 20 years at Sylvan Nursery and is a graduate of Temple University. She is also a Town Meeting member.

She said her reason  to run for School Committee was because she is proud of the town’s schools and wants them to continue to meet and exceed students' needs.

“I want to strengthen what's working,” Coughlin said. “I will work to improve what we can by seeking input, listening, critically evaluating policies and curricula, and moving deliberately, while meeting state expectations.”

Coughlin added that one of her top priorities, if elected, is to find ways to “increase students' sense of support and belonging.”  

“By valuing mutual respect, diversity, equity, and inclusion we work to enhance all students' wellbeing — as these concepts promote empathy and an understanding of all humanity,” she said.

Both Amaral and Coughlin have been endorsed by the Dartmouth Democratic Town Committee.

In other races, incumbent Stanley Mickelson will run unopposed in his bid for a fourth term on the Select Board.

Other unopposed incumbents include Christopher O’Neil for Planning Board, Sherri Tetrault for Parks and Recreation Board, and Robert Michaud for Board of Assessors.

Lisa Tufano and Joan-Marie Proulx have also taken out papers for their respective seats on the Board of Library Trustees. 

Emily Michele Olmsted has taken out papers for the Board of Health to which Incumbent Thomas Harden is not seeking re-election.

Michael Mattos did take out nomination papers for another term on the Housing Authority, but did not get enough signatures to appear on the ballot. According to Town Clerk Sarah Arruda, Mattos will run as a write-in candidate.

This year’s election will be held Tuesday, April 4. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents can also vote by mail

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked or dropped off to Town Hall, 400 Slocum Road 02747, by 8 p.m. on April 4.

The final day to register to vote is March 25.