Who Called Whom? Ward 3 School Committee Comes down to He Said-He Said

The Ward 3 School Committee race has taken a few more wild turns this week as the two candidates and an outgoing member feud over who did what and when.

Outgoing School Committeeman Bernie D’Onofrio said this week that he in no way ever called Ward 3 School Committee candidate Robert Santocroce to tell him to run against Ward 3 Incumbent Frank Parker.

That was in dispute of what Santocroce told the Independent last week when interviewed about some questionable advertisements that, in part, were allegedly lifted from advertisements published during a 1981 campaign – in some cases word for word. During the interview, Santocroce said – despite the rumors – he was not being backed by former Supt. Fred Foresteire. Instead, he said D’Onofrio had allegedly asked him to run – saying that he shouldn’t let Parker run unopposed.

This week D’Onofrio told the paper that is in no way true.

“I don’t even have his phone number,” he said. “I’m telling you straight up I have no idea where this came from. Frank Parker and I get along. I think a lot of Frank and would never ask this kid to run. I don’t get involved in that…I did not do that and would never. I’ve never come out and supported anyone. I’m not in the business of calling people.”

D’Onofrio has served on the School Committee in an at-large seat for some time, but was disqualified from the ballot earlier this summer. He said he’s retiring from politics and has moved on from that part of his life.

Santocroce disputed that, saying that it was true D’Onofrio called him.

He offered to get records of the calls, which he said were in June, from Verizon to show the Independent. However, those records never arrived in time for the deadline on Tuesday.

“That is definitely true and I can prove it,” he said. “He did call me and he knows me. I worked for the School Department for a year. I have seen him around event in Everett many times, and I went to college with his daughter. I’ve known him for 15 years at least…He told me not to let Parker run unopposed. I was actually going to run for at-large (School Committee).”

Meanwhile, Santocroce is also disputing the account Frank Parker told about finding the advertisements – which he said came from his memories of working on a local political campaign in 1981 while in school. Using those memories, he was able to locate the ads in old newspapers at the library. The ads were astonishingly similar to Santocroce’s modern ads.

Santocroce said that Parker couldn’t have found them while in high school because he graduated in 1978.

Parker said he, indeed, wasn’t in high school, but rather in college.

“I’m pretty sure I said I was in school, and maybe that was interpreted as ‘high school,’ but I was in college at the time,” he said. “If that’s the best he can come up with, then best to him. It’s a week to go and I’m not going to be dragged into the negative.”

He said D’Onofrio has told him that he did not call Santocroce, and he said he believes him.

“Bernie and I have had our differences, but it comes down to who you believe,” said Parker. “I served with Bernie eight years, and I know where his heart is. Why would I doubt him?”

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