Taunton makes history with first female mayor

TAUNTON, Mass. (WLNE) – The city of Taunton made history Monday with the swearing-in of Shaunna O’Connell, the city’s first female mayor.

O’Connell, a wife, and mother of two teenage girls, put herself through college and worked as a freelance court reporter before serving five terms as a state representative.

She resigned from her seat a few hours before Monday’s ceremony. Her seat will be filled in March’s election.

“It is my first day in the office and we have been busy all day long,” said O’Connell.

She said she’ll bring her nine years of knowledge serving at the state level to the mayor’s office.

“People are looking for something new and we’re gonna bring it here to Taunton.”

The 49-year-old Taunton native said she got involved in politics as a young mom to fight for issues that mattered to her. But she decided to run for mayor wanting to better serve her hometown of Taunton.

While she’s the first Republican mayor Taunton has seen in decades, she doesn’t want political parties to define her.

“I think people really see me as Shaunna, someone who cares about the community and represents them, and they don’t see a letter behind my name.”

O’Connell replaces former mayor Thomas Hoye, who left office to work for Governor Charlie Baker as Bristol County Register of Probate. She won November’s election in a landslide, beating three-term councilwoman Estele Borges.

The Taunton High School graduate said she wants to focus most on revitalizing the Silver City.

“Bringing business in here so that we have a bustling downtown. We are open for business and we welcome businesses to come here. I am going to be picking up the phone, calling businesses, calling investors, developers, to invite them here to come to Taunton tell them we are going to make things very easy for them.”

While O’Connell acknowledges issues plaguing Taunton, like the landfill that’s set to close in March, she said this is just day one and she’s excited to get to work.

“I want people to know that my door is always open, I’m always here for them, and I will be deeply involved in the community as I have been for pretty much my adult life.”

© WLNE-TV 2019