O’Neil and Beckwith win respective seats on Select Board and School Committee

Apr 3, 2024

Dartmouth voters went to the polls on Tuesday, April 2 and made their voices heard, electing Christopher O’Neil to a three-year term on the Select Board and Mary Beckwith to a three-year term on the School Committee. 

Securing 61% of the 3,424 votes cast, Christopher O’Neil defeated his opponent John Sousa to win a three-year term on the Select Board. O’Neil will take the place of Frank Gracie who decided not to seek reelection.

“I just really appreciate the work that my family and friends did to get the vote out,” O’Neil said. “We made a lot of calls today, a lot of text messages today to drive as many people as we know into the booths.”

O’Neil is no stranger to public service. In addition to his new seat on the Select Board, O’Neil serves as the chair of the Planning Board, is member of the Charter Review Committee, and is also a commissioner on the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District Board.

“It’s nice to see that all the work that we did paid off,” O’Neil said of his campaign efforts. 

In the race for a three-year seat on the school committee, Mary Beckwith secured 53% percent of the 3,474 votes cast to defeat her opponent Kyle Ross. The seat was previously filled by Shannon Jenkins who did not seek reelection. This is Beckwith’s first experience running for public office. 

“I’m so grateful to all of my supporters,” Beckwith said. “I’m very grateful to my neighbors, colleagues, and mostly to my family who jumped into this with me and kept me going and dealt with my absences and supported me every step of the way. “

As the newest member of the school committee, Beckwith said she’s eager to learn from the existing school committee members so she can become a valuable asset moving forward. One of her greatest concerns is for the school district’s budget, especially as it relates to its aging school buildings.  

“We have some significant facility issues with these buildings,” Beckwith said.

Ross, who also ran for a seat on the school committee in 2016, said he was surprised at his loss this year, but that it wouldn’t deter him from continuing to serve Dartmouth. 

“I thank all my supporters,” Ross said. “I poured my heart and soul into this race. I’ll continue to fight, whether it be another run for school committee or something else, I’ll always be active in town government. I look forward to continuing my role as a conservation commissioner.”

Of Dartmouth’s 24,350 registered voters, 3,734 voters participated in this year’s election, amounting to a 15% voter turnout, according to Town Clerk Sarah Arruda. Voter turnout was above average this year, said Arruda, who was reelected to her position in one of this year’s uncontested elections.

Voter turnout usually hovers around 9% or 11%, Arruda said. 

Arruda credits this year’s higher than average 15% voter turnout to the number of contested races.

“We had a lot of contested races,” she said. “A lot of times we don’t have a lot of competition.”

Despite Tuesday’s rainy weather, voters came out and cast their ballots in Dartmouth’s 9 precincts. 

Speaking outside the polling station at the North Branch Library, Scott Borowicz said he was voting out of concern for the town’s commercial development. In his 53 years living in Dartmouth, Borowicz said the Town isn’t doing enough to keep businesses in Dartmouth. 

“I don’t think the existing regime is doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “Some of these businesses that come and go — they’re opened for a year or two and then they close or they leave.”

After casting their votes at the polling station in the Council on Aging, Desiree Pinto and her husband Michael Pinto said the Select Board needs some new members to bring some fresh ideas into Dartmouth’s local government. 

“There’s a couple Select Board members in particular that I think have been there for a long time and it’s time for some fresh ideas,” Desiree said. “So I’m hoping that some of the people who ran this time will bring some of those ideas.”

Michael said the Select Board needs new members who are willing to disagree with the status quo to provide some new perspectives.

“I just want somebody that’s going to give the opposite opinion on some of the issues. Sometimes it’s like a rubber stamp here, and we’re just sick of it,” Michael said. “We need the ying and the yang instead of just the ying all the time.”

Some of the other contested races this year included seats on the Library Board of Trustees and the Board of Assessors. 

Linda Garibaldi and Mary Anne Cole won two three-year seats on the Library Board of Trustees, securing 39% and 37% respectively of the 5,337 total votes to defeat challenger Maya Wolfson. 

In the race for a seat on the Board of Assessors, Curtis Nunes secured 76% of the vote to defeat his opponent Albert Lay. 

There were also several uncontested races in this year’s election. 

Select Board incumbent David Tatelbaum received 2,933 votes. 

Arruda received 2,923 votes in her reelection as town clerk. Running for a position on the Board of Health, Richard Romero received 2,610 votes. 

Running for two spots in the Department of Parks and Recreation, Joan Brito received 2,460 votes and Sarah Freshman received 2,347 votes. 

Running for a seat on the Planning Board, Margaret Sweet received 2,654 votes. Running a seat on the Dartmouth Housing Authority, Elaine Lancaster received 2,614 votes. 

Running for a 1-year seat on the Library Board of Trustees, Lynne Cotter received 2,594 votes.