Scituate election Saturday to replace school committee official charged with 4 felonies

SCITUATE − Voters will head to the polls Saturday, May 20, for Scituate's annual town election.

In the only contest, Richard Taft and Maria Fenwick look to fill the school committee seat vacated by Michael Long, who resigned after his arrest in February on charges that he defrauded his wife’s elderly aunt of her pension and Social Security checks.

Maria Fenwick and Richard Taft are vying to fill a seat on Scituate's school committee in the May 20, 2023, town election.
Maria Fenwick and Richard Taft are vying to fill a seat on Scituate's school committee in the May 20, 2023, town election.

Scituate School Committee hopeful Maria Fenwick would focus on teachers

Though Maria Fenwick is running for the first time, she has been involved in education for the past 20 years.

“It’s a lifelong passion,” she told The Patriot Ledger. “I believe in education’s life-changing power. It’s the cornerstone of a community, an investment in the community and the world.”

With a master’s in education policy from Harvard and a second master’s in elementary education from UMass-Boston, Fenwick spent six years teaching fourth grade in Boston Public Schools. From there, she moved to the nonprofit sector, where she specialized in teacher engagement and empowerment. In 2017, she founded her own nonprofit called the Teacher Collaborative.

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“I’ve met a vast number of teachers over the years, seen all kinds of schools and a wide range of ways things are done,” Fenwick said. “(The Teacher Collaborative) helps teachers broaden their perspective on ways to meet challenges.”

Fenwick said people are the key variable determining successful outcomes in education, especially teachers. As a committee member, she said she would emphasize “attracting and retaining top talent” by giving teachers “opportunities to learn and lead, as the doers of the work.”

Fenwick has three children, two of whom are enrolled in Scituate Public Schools. She said her perspective from inside the school system is “something that sets me apart.”

Candidate for Scituate School Committee Maria Fenwick and her family.
Candidate for Scituate School Committee Maria Fenwick and her family.

Scituate's Richard Taft wants to 'ask why' on school committee

Taft, who sits on the town’s capital planning committee, is a familiar name to Scituate voters. This election marks the third time he has run for school committee after losing twice to incumbents, Long in 2021 and current school committee Chair Nicole Brandolini in 2022.

Taft told The Patriot Ledger that the district’s stated goal of offering “the best education in the world” is “soft” and “nebulous.” Citing data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, he said Scituate has underperformed when measured against neighboring districts such as Hingham and Duxbury, which score better on Advanced Placement exams and state tests.

“We have the same demographics, the same kids, we spend the same amount of money,” Taft said. “Why aren’t we getting the same result?”

Richard Taft makes his third bid for Scituate School Committee at town elections on May 20.
Richard Taft makes his third bid for Scituate School Committee at town elections on May 20.

Taft, who works in the engineering and manufacture of air conditioning, said he would bring a different viewpoint to the school committee.

“In manufacturing, we look at the process and make it better,” he said. “We ask why. Deficiencies become apparent, and we build policy around that. Our school committee doesn’t ask why.”

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Taft said his daughter used to attend Scituate Public Schools, but he and his family decided on a private high school because of the culture in Scituate. In 2022, Taft told Scituate Community Television host Seth Pfeiffer that he felt his daughter received a poor grade on an essay because her argument didn’t conform to prevailing opinions about systemic racism in America.

“Every night I felt like I had to look over her work,” Taft said. “We had to discuss. What did you talk about today? What exactly were you reading? It got tiring.”

Taft has criticized the school committee for a statement it issued in October 2020 that committed it to “uprooting the systemic racism that currently exists in Scituate Public Schools.” He said members of the committee, when asked, couldn’t identify where exactly in Scituate schools racism has been institutionalized.

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On issues of diversity and inclusion, Fenwick said Scituate schools have made “big progress,” citing a recent equity audit, which she said generated great ideas.

“We’re not perfect,” she said. "The work is never done, it’s always evolving.”

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 20, in the Scituate High School gymnasium.

Candidates for all other seats are running unopposed: James Toomey for moderator, Andrew Goodrich and Susan Harrison for select board, Steven Guard for assessor, Rebecca Lewis and Robert Thomas MacLean for planning board and Christopher Mirarchi and Virginia Ayers for library trustees.

Reach Peter Blandino at

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This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Richard Taft and Maria Fenwick: Scituate school committee candidates