Long-serving Planning Board member Joseph Toomey will not seek re-election

Jan 7, 2019

After nearly 25 years of service, longtime Planning Board member Joseph E. Toomey, Jr. is calling it quits.

Toomey made the surprise announcement that he will not run for re-election in April at the Planning Board’s January 7 joint meeting with the Select Board. He is also retiring from his day job as an electrical engineer with the Navy in Newport, RI, and felt it may become difficult to commit to the Planning Board’s routine Monday night meeting schedule.

“I am really appreciative of the town electing me five times for five different runs of five years apiece,” Toomey said. “I appreciate all the help I’ve gotten from the Select Board, Planning Board, and any other board in the town. I’ve had a wonderful experience.”

A lot has changed in Dartmouth since becoming a board member in 1994, but several major accomplishments stand out to Toomey, including a legal battle to prevent condominiums from being built in the heart of Padanaram Village.

He is also proud of his work helping the town, town attorney, and Conservation Commission in the Boston Environmental Corp. lawsuit. In 2016, after at least four years of court battles, the state Superior Court upheld the town's bylaw prohibiting the company from using contaminated soil to cap a landfill.

Toomey also said he was proud of his work expanding solar in town while also protecting residential homeowners.

Toomey will not exit town government completely, however. He is currently a member of the Dartmouth Veterans Advisory Board, and intends to stay in place there as well as continue his work with the Dartmouth VFW. He is an Air Force veteran and served in the Vietnam War.

News of his retirement was a surprise to members of both boards, who spoke highly of Toomey’s commitment to the position and to Dartmouth, despite disagreements about policy.

He made the announcement as the Planning and Select Boards discussed how to handle a vacancy on the Planning Board created by another retirement. Last year, charman Joel Avila retired from the board and moved to Florida.

After putting a call out to interested persons to appoint until the election, three inquiries from interested people were received. One was unavailable to make the Monday night meetings, while a second applicant withdrew their interest, leaving Lourdes Pita left.

Following a lengthy debate over whether or not to appoint a person in the interim or wait until the election, the Select Board voted unanimously to appoint Pita to the Planning Board to fill Avila’s seat.

Toomey will serve the remainder of his term. His seat will be open for the April election, however, and anyone interested in running for the seat can contact the Town Clerk’s Office for more information about the process. With Toomey’s decision publicized, he said he hopes it generates interest in the race for his seat.

“I think with this announcement tonight I’m going to help it along for a person to run for my position,” Toomey said.