Meet Chris O’Neil

Mar 19, 2024

Two candidates are in the running for a three-year term on the Dartmouth Select Board.

Chris O’Neil, chair of the Planning Board, member of the Charter Review Committee and a commissioner on the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District Board, said being elected to the Select Board would be an extension of his community work. 

O'Neil is involved in charity work as well as with town government, including with the family foundation,  including the family foundation he started in 2012 with his siblings. The charity has since raised over $50,000 to help those with pediatric burns and supplying medical equipment to local hospitals, he said. 

He has lived in Dartmouth since 1997 in a house he built with his wife, Kristine, on Bakerville Road and has approximately four decades of experience working in insurance. 

O’Neil said his decision to run for Select Board was part of a “natural progression.”

“As you get a little bit more involved in the town and the workings of the town, you find some things that you'd like to help with,” he said. 

One of the major issues he’d like to help with is Dartmouth’s budget shortfall, especially for the sake of the schools.

“The only thing that we can do really is just keep as much pressure on increasing fees and taxes as best we can,” he said.

O’Neil argued that the school system should be a “point of pride” for the town. He added it always has been for Dartmouth and he wants to make sure it can stay that way. 

Even people who don’t have children benefit from a good school system, O’Neil said, highlighting the effect it has on the value of resident homes.

He called attention to the collaborative working relationship between the Select Board and School Committee, pointing out how rare it is and how it benefits the town. 

O’Neil said the town may have escaped a tax override this year, but it’s something it may have to seriously consider next year, especially with the town’s aging infrastructure such as the sewer treatment facility.

Additionally, O’Neil said when it comes to development, the town needs to be considerate of people’s property rights but also of protecting the character of Dartmouth.

O’Neil added, “We don't have that much developable land in the town right now. So let's be smart about it. Let's be slow about it. Let's make the right decisions.”

Along with a budget shortfall and aging infrastructure, O’Neil said many people in town are concerned about the lack of communication. 

In an effort to improve that communication, he said he would want to look into setting up a town luncheon as is done in the city of New Bedford.

O’Neil said, “Essentially what they've done is they've brought in all types of stakeholders to a venue — they have lunch — they get to have the city talk about the major things that are going on, legislation that affects the city.”

A lunch could also be an opportunity to recognize individuals who have dedicated their time to the town of Dartmouth: “It's time we thank them because I think that will drive some of the participation and interest to try to give back in some way to the town.”