TAUNTON — What was expected to be a slow and expected election season in Taunton changed dramatically this week after Governor Charlie Baker announced his appointment of Mayor Thomas Hoye to Interim Register of Probate in Bristol County,

Baker made the announcement on Monday; just two days after Hoye stated that he’d be seeking re-election on Friday. Within an hour after the announcement, State Representative Shaunna O’Connell submitted her papers to enter the Taunton Mayoral race.

“I’m really excited and honored to be running for mayor of my hometown. It’s where I was born and raised and I’m raising my family here as well. Taunton is a great city,” O’Connell said while calling into the Barry Richard Show on Wednesday.

“People have been asking me all year long if I’m going to running for mayor and take on Tom Hoye. So it’s something that we thought about for sure and nobody was quite sure of what Tom was going to do. He hadn’t filed his papers. So there was just a lot of chatter and rumors and stuff flying around.”

Baker and O’Connell have faced criticism for the decision, mostly from the state’s Democratic Party, which described the incident as an "Attempt to Hand-pick Taunton's Next Mayor."

“I think when people look for something they’ll find it, even if it’s not there. I heard his announcement when everyone else did. Someone texted me and told me about it a little while after. I don’t know exactly what time he did it, but everybody found out at the same time and everybody had an opportunity to put their papers in,” said O’Connell.

“Believe me, thought has gone into it over the past year, but when Tom made his intentions clear we thought that here was a great opportunity to serve my town up close and personal, be real hands-on and get some stuff done.”

O’Connell went on to describe her upbringing and how she has raised her own family in Taunton, saying she would be honored to serve the city in a more “hands-on” role.  O’Connell adds that if elected, she plans to step down from her full-time seat in the state in the state Legislature.

“This is another way for me to serve my community at a closer level and really be hands-on, and to create a roadmap for our future success.  Right now, Taunton is a gateway city. I want Taunton to be a leading city in the Commonwealth that other cities look to as a huge success and our next generation will have more opportunity,” O’Connell said.

“If I’m honored to be elected I will resign from my seat. There’s no way you can be effective holding two full-time jobs. For me, State Representative has been a full-time job for the past nine years. Mayor will be a full-time job and you have to focus your energy entirely on that, so I would absolutely resign that seat. I know in the past that some others not only in Taunton, but in other parts of the state, have tried to do two at once, and I just think that is the absolute wrong thing to do.”

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