Attleboro Mayor Francis O'Neil

FOR ATTLEBORO CENTENNIAL PUBLICATION Attleboro Mayor Francis J. O’Neil. 9th mayor. 1945-49.

Francis J. O'Neil, a photographer, was elected the city's ninth mayor in 1944 after a stint as city council president.

He's the only mayor to serve a three-year term.

World War II, the bloodiest war in the history of the world, was winding down and would mercifully be over in less than a year, and O'Neil believed that measures were needed to help soldiers returning to civilian life.

But that was only one plank of his platform.

O'Neil endorsed efforts to establish a six-year capital improvement plan, and advocated for a plan to renovate schools one at a time over several years to defray the cost.

If elected, he pledged to seek improvements in the recreation and park departments.

O'Neil said the city, itself, was the city's biggest business and needed a businessman at the controls.

He was opposed by council colleague Francis S. Manchester.

Manchester claimed that the city tax rate was made not on actual budget numbers, but on "padded" numbers, and that it was a "dishonest" rate.

He pledged to change that.

On election day, O'Neil defeated Manchester by a scant 36 votes to become the ninth mayor.

A third candidate, Christopher W. McNary, finished about 1,200 votes behind the two top vote-getters.

In 1946, O'Neil again was challenged by Manchester, but defeated him handily by almost 1,900 votes.

O'Neil got an extra year on his second term because the city changed its election schedule to odd years.

To do that, the city had to make a two-year term a three-year term to effect the change, and as a result, he's the only mayor of Attleboro to serve a three-year term.

The city also changed the month for its elections from December to November.

O'Neil did not run for a third term.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the ninth in a series of profiles of Attleboro's mayors since the city was incorporated 100 years ago in 1914. The Sun Chronicle will print a special section Sunday celebrating Attleboro's 100th anniversary as a city.

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