Inside Stories

Is the Fix In? Dracut Politics is a Blood Sport

The political control freaks at Town Hall West continue to play their backroom games, always maneuvering to get the right person, whomever they can most control, in positions of power. But more importantly, they are working overtime using their political magic to keep their political foes out of public service.

So is the case with a recent vacancy on the Dracut School Committee created as a result of the announced resignation of Chairman Joe Wilkie.

Moments after Willkie’s Facebook announcement, prominent names began to emerge.  Speculation of who might enter the political appointment sweepstakes were being whispered in political circles.  Political insiders were maneuvering behind the scenes to line up votes for the “Right” replacement.

Many here in town, believe that you can’t get elected or placed on a volunteer committee unless you get the blessing of Dracut’s powerful Godfather.

I for one, think that is a fallacy.  Hard work, a seriously formulated campaign platform are recipes for a successful election. I cite my own successful elections to the BOS as well as other current & former elected town officials.  I give you Selectpersons Tony Archinski and Heather Santiago Hutchings, as well as former Selectwoman Tami Dristiliaris as great examples.   All three have been overwhelmingly elected and reelected without the help of Dracut’s self-anointed powerbrokers!

I happen to believe the current replacement process is flawed and makes the impending appointment much more political.  It is rife with the stench of dirty politics.  It allows the power brokers with the most votes to exercise their strength.

The power brokers at Town Hall West regularly gather weekly on Lakeview Avenue to commiserate on how to maintain their consolidated power.  It is a known fact, in town political circles, that well known businessman Lucky Vezina is the political Kingpin who wields the most power behind the scenes. After all, Lucky displays a sign on his office desk indicating that this is “Town hall West!”

Lucky has been the mastermind of politics in town for many years. He’ll be the first to tell you that he got Joe DiRocco, Matt Sheehan, Russ Taylor, Alison Genest and others elected to public office.  Just ask Alison Genest.  Genest went to him hat in hand during the Covid lockdown seeking his help to her get elected to the board of selectman. It worked!

To be clear, and for the record, I have no pony in this race.  The only power you and I have is vested in the right to vote and the First Amendment!

In Dracut when a vacancy on the School Committee occurs the remaining School Committee members and the Board of Selectman must meet in a joint session to name a replacement.  BOS Chair Alison Genest has said, when asked for support by a candidate, that “she will wait to see all the applicants”.  That’s laughable and a departure from her usual actions of the past.

Remember when there was an opening for the Selectman appointment to the Board of Directors at DATV?  Alison ignored the rules, and without advertising the position, she appointed her husband, Brian Genest! Even though there were several others who expressed interest in the position.  But that’s Dracut politics.  Oh, by the way, the DATV appointment was decided within hours of the vacancy occurring.

Conflict of interest anyone?  Appointing your husband to a board?  Does that look good? Not for Alison, she is the Queen of Dracut politics.  She does whatever she wants!   As long as her political mentor, Joe DiRocco approves.

The current vacant position on the School Committee, according to the rules, must be appropriately posted for 14 day to allow Dracut residents an opportunity to apply before a vote is taken. The replacement would then serve the remaining term which in this case ends in May 2025.

Earlier this week I wrote a post on “What’s Happening Dracut’s” Facebook page that outlined several possible candidates to be chosen at a joint meeting of both committees.

The list of candidates emerged early and was initially long, including such luminaries as unsuccessful school board candidates Alyssa Nazzaro and Rob Sheppard.  Either Alyssa or Rob would be good candidates based on their involvement in town and their knowledge of school affairs.

It appears that Alyssa Nazzaro has been encouraged by the powers that be to wait and not become a candidate, as she is considered an integral part of the town’s Finance Committee.  They believe her ability to steward the upcoming push for new tax revenue will be needed on the FinCom.  This assumption is more likely to be true with the recent resignation of the very capable FinCom Chairperson Michele Clement.  Nazzaro is the current Vice Chair and is expected to take the lead on the finance committee.  That remains to be seen, as that board will need to be reorganized.

Rob Sheppard, somewhat of political maverick, appears to have the support of School Committee Member Alison Volpe, who told someone in the know said that she was approached by Rob asking for support.  But sources have confirmed that was not true and that Volpe actually reached out to Sheppard.  Strange, given the somewhat rocky relationship Volpe and Sheppard had during the Covid pandemic.  Maybe Volpe is a recruiter for Town Hall West?

Phil Thibault entered the fray and garnered some solid early support.  Phil is a longtime community activist with a ton of knowledge regarding all things Dracut and would be a great choice at this time.  Especially now that the town is attempting to build two new schools.  His experience as an architect and knowledge of building codes, as well as his many years on the town’s permanent building committee, makes his appointment invaluable.   Thibault is said to have solid commitments from at least 3 voting members of those who would be voting.

But remember, Thibault is a political nemesis of both DiRocco and Genest.  They will never vote for him for anything.  Selectwoman Jennifer Kopcinski is the third wheel of the big three voting block on the Board of Selectman and will likely vote the way DiRocco and Genest tell her to.

Alison Volpe was asked by someone in the know why she would not be supporting Phil Thibault, who has been a strong supporter of Volpe in the past.  She claimed in so many words, but not these exact words, that she “can’t fight the head table”!   I’m sure it’s a convoluted reference to the “powers that be.”.  Her answer was somewhat predictable given the known fact Volpe will be a candidate for Selectman in the 2025 election.  Don’t want to upset the crew on Lakeview Avenue.

Political activist Richard Silvio floated his interest but quickly found out that backroom politics are alive and well in town!   Richard told this writer that he was offering his name as a choice to fill the unexpired term only as a placeholder and did not intend to seek election to a full term.  Silvio has since withdrawn his name from consideration.

The magic number of votes to win is five.

There is no indication of who School Committee members Rene Young and Linda Trouville are leaning toward.  Trouville is sly, sometimes holding her cards close to the vest.  Young, on the other hand, has been a long-time close friend of Volpe and will most likely vote with her.  Although Phil Thibault has supported both Linda and Rene in the past, it is likely they will not rock the boat by voting for him.   Therefore, it seems that Phil has an impossible lane to drive to get the majority votes necessary to win!

Who knows? Lucky may not approve of any of the above-mentioned names.  Time will tell.

But it appears that the fix is in.  Stay tuned. Anything could happen!

One response to “Is the Fix In? Dracut Politics is a Blood Sport”

  1. Richard says:

    Great article John ,
    We all know it’s a shame that the town’s
    Politics are that polluted.

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