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Shaunna O’Connell Running for Mayor of Taunton

August 5, 2019

One of the few prominent Republican state legislators on Beacon Hill is planning to run for mayor of Taunton.

State Representative Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton) jumped into the race Monday shortly after Governor Charlie Baker nominated the current mayor of Taunton, Thomas Hoye Jr., to serve as interim register of probate in Bristol County, according to State House News Service.

It’s a free shot for O’Connell, who would be running in an off-year election in November 2019 and so can keep her seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives even if she doesn’t win the race for mayor.

If she wins, she could theoretically remain a state representative while serving as mayor. That’s unusual, however, and politicians who have tried it in recent years have come under heat to resign from the state Legislature.

If O’Connell resigns her current seat, it would remove an outspoken GOP legislator.

O’Connell serves as ranking minority member of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and the House Committee on Personnel and Administration.

Baker’s appointment of Hoye and O’Connell’s quick decision to run for mayor took observers by surprise.

As recently as Thursday, August 2, Hoye told his hometown newspaper, The Taunton Gazette, that he was “ready” to run for re-election to a fifth term, even though he hadn’t yet returned nomination papers with signatures to the city clerk’s office so he could qualify for the city election ballot. He was expected to be unopposed.

Candidates for city offices in Taunton have only until 5 p.m. Tuesday, August 6 to turn in nomination papers with at least 25 signatures of registered voters in Taunton to qualify for the November 2019 city election ballot.

Taunton is a city of about 57,000 people about 32 miles south of Boston.

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