By: Brian Genest
If you think Dracut’s most rejected perennial candidate—nine-time loser Phil Thibault—couldn’t be any more bitter than he already is about being the town’s monumental loser, think again.
This time, Dracut’s self-proclaimed perpetual victim Phil Thibault and his fruit loop friends are lamenting because he wasn’t appointed to a town board, again. Phil Thibault, the guy who has come up short in eight elections for selectman (and who lost an election for housing authority, too), apparently thought he’d be perfect to fill the open seat… on the school committee.
Let’s put Phil Thibault’s electoral history in historical perspective: He’s choked in selectmen’s races in 2005, 2007, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022, after getting his butt kicked in that housing authority election. He’s lost electoral contests against all five sitting selectmen, including three head-to-head matchups against Selectman Joe DiRocco. In other words, Phil Thibault has lost as many elections as Hillary Clinton, Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke combined, plus two more. In his own mind, however, that makes Phil Thibault fully qualified to serve on the school committee, apparently.
Phil Thibault had perhaps the shortest candidacy for school committee in town history: He announced he was in the race and then a nanosecond later he was out. In between, Phil Thibault apparently realized he was unable to muster five votes from the Board of Selectmen and School Committee. (Members of those two boards ended up unanimously appointing Rob Sheppard, a guy who actually ran for school committee last year and finished third in that five way-race behind winners Allison Volpe and Dr. Linda Trouville.)
Make no mistake about it: Phil Thibault’s inability to secure that school committee appointment is a game changer; he’s finally lost the support of some who previously wasted a lot of political capital, time, money, effort on a guy who continues to lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose. It was bound to happen eventually because Phil Thibault’s not just the likely loser in every contest, he’s the proven loser and proven to be Dracut’s biggest loser.
Meanwhile, one of the main reasons Phil Thibault can’t win anything is that he’s surrounded himself with some of the most nasty and negative voices in our town, those who constantly try to tear down Dracut. Just ask current School Committee Chairman Allison Volpe, who’s been under attack from Phil Thibault’s friends in print, on cable tv and on social media since he dropped out of the running.
On September 12, an author on What’s Happening Dracut who did not identify themself went after Volpe on their Facebook page, alleging she broke the school committee bylaws by failing to hold a reorganization when Sheppard was appointed to the board. Most of those who bothered to respond defended Volpe. One person called the page’s posters “armchair quarterbacks” who try “to create controversy and drama because they think they have all the answers.” Another called their posts “ridiculous” and “sensationalist.” Yet another person said it was “much ado about nothing,” considering the other issues facing the school committee and town.
Volpe also responded, explaining that a reorganization is done after the annual town election, not when a member is appointed to fill a vacancy. She added that she’d be happy to hold a reorganization if that is the will of the committee. (Where was the outcry for a reorganization when Dr. Linda Trouville was appointed to fill Betsy Murphy’s unexpired term? Cue the hypocritical crickets.)
Volpe, of course, was attacked by Phil Thibault who accused her of not providing Sheppard with the same rights and privileges of other members. “to (sic) be dismissive of his membership as appointed does no one service,” Phil Thibault posted.
Volpe wasn’t tolerating any of it and responded to Phil Thibault directly, tagging him in her comment on the original post. “Phil Thibault, no one is dismissing Mr. Rob Sheppard. As you will see he will be afforded the same rights as all members. I am dismissing the nonsense this page likes to spout to increase clicks.”
With “friends” like Phil Thibault, Allison Volpe doesn’t need any enemies, apparently.
Anyway, here’s what the Lowell Sun Here’s what the Lowell Sun said when Phil Thibault lost his selectman’s race in 2020. “It just might be that in Thibault’s case, familiarity breeds more contempt than content. Buoyed by the backing of several town influencers – including former selectmen – one would have thought it was his election to lose, which he did. It could also be payback for the decision by that screening panel he ran not to put interim – now permanent – Town Manager Ann Vandal on the list of finalists for that position.”
Bingo! It wasn’t Phil Thibault’s job to fire the interim town manager and that’s exactly what he tried to do by not including Vandal on the short list. Thankfully, Phil Thibault wasn’t ultimately involved in the final hiring decision back in 2020 because selectmen scrapped the tarnished search process, got rid of him and kept Vandal.
Since that time, Phil Thibault continues to spew toxicity about our town, elected officials, private citizens, and business owners on his bestie John Zimini’s unwatchable cable TV show, a local version of Wayne’s World with a similar level of maturity and cast of characters. Phil Thibault’s television appearances are wicked dull and hilariously sad, just like him. During the 2022 town election, Phil Thibault was calling Dracut sleepy. In 2021, Phil Thibault said our town was starting to rot. What’s sleepy is Phil Thibault’s campaigns and what’s rotten is the way he talks about Dracut.
Why would voters want to elect Phil Thibault, a guy who hates our town so much? Thankfully, Dracut isn’t buying what Phil Thibault has been selling. In fact, voters keep sending him the same message—” thanks, but no thanks”—but Phil Thibault doesn’t want to hear it, apparently.
Regardless, Phil Thibault thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room, no matter who’s in the room. Just ask him. Speaking of which, Phil Thibault always wants to be in the room, apparently. He’s been lurking around town government for decades, keeping the seats warm on a bunch of town boards. If you’ve gotten Phil Thibault’s self-centered political mailings throughout the years, you’ve seen the extensive list, but not a single accomplishment or new idea to benefit Dracut. Like George Costanza, Phil Thibault can’t wait to tell anyone who will listen that he’s an architect. You’d be hard pressed to meet a more self-absorbed politician; the thing Phil Thibault likes to talk about the most is himself.
When there’s an opening on any town board these days, and not just the school committee, Phil Thibault rushes his application over to town hall right away. In a town of 34,000 people, Phil Thibault always thinks he’s the most qualified person for the job. The reality is that Dracut doesn’t need Phil Thibault to sit on another board, we need someone—anyone—other than him! He’s stale, his lack of ideas is stale, and so are his not-ready-for-primetime pals.
Phil Thibault has been very angry ever since he was rejected by the Board of Selectmen for the newly created at-large seat on the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee last December. The board majority cited conflict of interest, as Phil Thibault is an architect who conducts business in town. Instead of reflecting inward, Phil Thibault lashed out. But the truth hurts: In 2016, Phil Thibault resigned from the Planning Board after speaking with the state’s Ethics Commission and then he went on his buddy Warren Shaw’s AM radio program to talk about it. Shaw’s sidekick Shawn Ashe posted the audio recording on his Dracut Forum blog.
Phil Thibault should look in the mirror, especially if he wants to talk about ethics and conflicts of interest. Or read the Lowell Sun. In October of 2020, the newspaper exposed some of Phil Thibault’s completely unethical and self-serving behavior at DATV.
“Imagine if Phil Thibault had been elected to the Dracut Board of Selectmen. Even though the Dracut Access Cable Television board of directors, on which Thibault serves, is technically not a government body, Thibault apparently thought there was nothing improper with landing a $10,000 contract to help design DATV’s new studio, as Thibault is an architect.”
Phil Thibault is always good for one thing: a laugh. Phil Thibault’s short-lived school committee candidacy is no exception. Sadly, however, Phil Thibault keeps failing to learn his lesson. Class, and class clown, dismissed.
—Brian Genest is the producer and host of Eye On Dracut, winner of the Hometown Media Award for News, sponsored by Lucky Oil. ◊