BREAKING: After Returning To The Board To Fill An Unexpected Vacancy, Select Chair Judy O’Connell Will NOT Seek A Fourth Term

WILMINGTON, MA — Select Board Chair Judy O’Connell has announced that she will NOT be seeking re-election in this April’s Town Election.

O’Connell, who previously served two full terms on the Select Board, returned to the Board in 2021 to fill an unexpected mid-term vacancy after former Selectwoman Jomarie O’Mahony moved out of town. Given her experience and familiarity with the position, O’Connell has said she felt compelled to step forward and put her name on the ballot after a very limited pool of candidates emerged.

O’Connell, whose father passed away last week, cited personal and professional reasons for not seeking re-election to a fourth term.

“I loved my time in public service in Wilmington, and this may not be the end of my municipal career,” O’Connell told Wilmington Apple. “But I need to put myself in a position professionally and personally to move on to the next steps in my life.”

O’Connell served for 7.5 years on the Board of Selectmen (April 2011- April 2017, September 2021-present), including three years as Chairwoman. When first elected, she was just the fifth woman in the town’s history to serve on the Select Board.

O’Connell is proud of the town’s many accomplishments during her tenure on the board, including the hiring of Town Manager Jeff Hull, the construction of a new High School, and the purchase of the land next to St. Dorothy’s. More recently, over the past 18 months, voters have approved the construction of a new Senior Center and new Town Hall/School Administration Building, while town officials actively seek land in North Wilmington to construct a fire substation on and work closely with the Mass. School Building Authority to begin the process of replacing the Wildwood Early Childhood Center.

While on the Board, O’Connell oversaw the creation of the Yentile Farm Recreational Facility as the Yentile Farm Development Committee Chair. She was also instrumental in the creation of the Town’s Dog Park.

Prior to joining the Select Board, O’Connell served on the Wilmington School Committee (2007-2010), where she and her colleagues hired former School Superintendent Joanne Benton, implemented full-day kindergarten, and signed the statement of interest with the Mass, School Building Authority which began the process that helped lead to the construction of a new high school. O’Connell went on to be a key contributor to the Wilmington High School 4.0 Campaign Committee.

O’Connell was a very close runner-up in the Democratic Primary in the 2018 Wilmington/Tewksbury State Rep Race, falling less than 100 votes short in a crowded field.

O’Connell, a former teacher who owns a real estate agency in town with her sister, has also given back to the community by volunteering outside the political arena, including serving on the Wilmington Athletic Alumni & Friends Organization, the Wilmington Hall of Fame Committee, the Wilmington Memorial Library Strategic Planning Committee, the Wilmington-Tewksbury Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Wilmington Scholarship Committee, and the Wilmington Relay for Life Committee. She has also coached baseball for Wilmington Little League and softball for the Massachusetts Bay State Games, while volunteering with the Massachusetts Special Olympics and serving as a mentor for Lahey Clinic’s At-Risk Children Mentor program.

A Wilmington native and WHS graduate, O’Connell was an exceptional high school and collegiate athlete. She served as the captain of Merrimack College’s 1994 NCCA National Champion Division II Softball Team, and was named an NCAA Athletic and Academic All-American. O’Connell was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fames of the Northeast 10 Conference, Merrimack College, and Wilmington High School. The Wilmington Town Crier named her the Female Athlete of the Decade (1990-2000).

O’Connell’s announcement now guarantees Wilmington will see at least one new member of the Select Board elected in the town’s April 22 election.  Two seats are up for grabs. Incumbent Gary DePalma is seeking re-election. Residents interested in running for office can obtain nomination papers from the Town Clerk’s Office. The papers, with at least 50 valid signatures from Wilmington voters, are due back to the Town Clerk by the March 3 filing deadline.

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