WILMINGTON, MA — It’s been slow going for the Wilmington School Committee race this election cycle despite three seats being up for grabs.
Jo Newhouse, who was appointed to the School Committee over the summer, is seeking re-election, but two of her colleagues — Julie Broussard and Tom Talbot — are choosing to leave the board. Last year’s runner-up, Jesse Fennelly, is giving it another try.
For nearly two months, no additional candidates had stepped forward to seek one of the three seats. That all changed on February 28, when Jason Samaha pulled nomination papers from the Town Clerk’s Office, approximately one week before the filing deadline.
Samaha has been a teacher for nearly 20 years. He currently serves as a Special Education teacher at William McKinley School in Boston. He received his Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire and Master of Education in Special Education and Teaching from UMass Boston.
Samaha has been married to his wife Amanda, a guidance counselor at the Shawsheen Tech, for 16 years, and they have twins Nick and Avis, who are 7th graders at the Middle School. They’ve lived in Wilmington for the past eight years.
Samaha’s recent experience on the Wilmington Middle School Principal Search Committee played a role in his decision to run for School Committee.
“I was really impressed with the teachers, parents, and school administrators I met. I was able to hear from all of these stakeholders about the district and the middle school in particular,” Samaha told the Wilmington Apple. “I noted the great need for consistency in Wilmington in terms of leadership. We’ve had an interim principal for a few years at the middle school, the Woburn St. principal is leaving, and there is a new Superintendent. As someone who has worked in schools for 20 years, I am fully aware that inconsistent leadership does not promote quality schools. Wilmington is a very strong school district but we can, should, and need to continue to move forward toward excellence and I would like to be a part of that movement.”
According to Assitstant Town Clerk Linda Golden, here are how the races stand as of March 1, one week before the Friday, March 8 (5pm) filing deadline:
Wilmington Board of Selectmen — 2 seats — 3-year terms
- Greg Bendel (incumbent) — pulled papers on 1/3 — returned on 1/11 — certified on 1/14
- Kevin Caira (incumbent) — pulled papers on 1/4 — returned on 2/8 — certified on 2/11
- Robert Fasulo, Jr. (challenger) — pulled papers on 2/5 — has not yet returned
- Mark Maselli (challenger) — pulled papers on 2/11 — has not returned yet
- Daniel Murphy (challenger) — pulled papers on 1/18 — returned on 1/28 — certified on 1/30
- Suzanne Sullivan (challenger) — pulled papers on 2/5 — has not yet returned
Wilmington Board of Selectmen — 1 seat — 1-year term
- Daryn Marsh — pulled papers on 2/5 —returned on 2/19 — certified on 2/21
- Jomarie O’Mahony — pulled papers on 1/30 — returned on 2/19 — certified on 2/19
Wilmington School Committee — 3 seats — 3-year terms
- Jo Newhouse (incumbent) — pulled papers on 1/4 — has not returned yet
- Jesse Fennelly (challenger) — pulled papers on 1/7 — returned on 2/20 — certified on 2/21
- Jason Samaha (challenger) — pulled papers on 2/28 — has not returned yet
Incumbents Julie Broussard and Tom Talbot have announced they aren’t seeking re-election.
Shawsheen Tech School Committee — 1 seat — 3-year term
- Robert Peterson Sr. (incumbent) — pulled papers on 1/3 — returned on 2/1 — certified on 2/2
To get on the ballot, nomination papers, with at least 50 valid signatures from Wilmington voters, are due back to the Town Clerk by Friday, March 8.
The Annual Town Election will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Polls will be open from 8am to 8pm.
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