Attleboro Mayor

Attleboro Mayor Kevin J. Dumas.

Kevin J. Dumas is the youngest and first openly gay person ever elected mayor.

Inspired to go into politics as a youngster by former mayor Kai Shang, he was 27 when he took the oath of office in January 2004.

And while he was openly gay, he said his sexuality was not relevant to the office and that he did not want to become a poster boy for gay rights.

Now at 38, he's completed five terms and is at work on his sixth, which ties him with his predecessor, Judith H. Robbins, as the second-longest serving mayor in the city's history.

Dumas was a political unknown when he ran against Robbins in 2003. But, he had a well organized and effective campaign, and was able to handily defeat Robbins with 57 percent of the vote in a low turnout election, 26 percent, which is usually said to favor an incumbent.

Some analysts believe Robbins underestimated Dumas, as most at the time did.

During his campaign, Dumas, who had worked in the financial industry after graduating from St. Michael's College in Vermont, praised Robbins for her accomplishments during her long tenure, but told voters it was time for new leadership.

Since his election, he's taken up Robbins' initiatives on downtown revitalization, the industrial business park and streetscape, and has worked to make them bloom.

He's prided himself on tight money management.

Dumas has turned seven consecutive million dollar-plus surpluses and more than $16 million overall during his tenure, and has built the city's rainy day fund to about $2.7 million.

Good management has led the city to an improved bond rating that allows it to borrow money at a lower rate.

Dumas led the effort to build a new track and field at the high school, and pushed for the cash needed to replace a crumbling animal shelter.

Meanwhile, he's rebuilding the high school one step at a time, starting with the roof in 2009.

Windows and heating are expected to be next, possibly this year.

Under his watch, a new GATRA bus station was built on South Main Street as part of downtown revitalization, and a privately funded seven-story commercial residential building is on the rise.

One of Dumas's biggest challenges was revamping a foundering Attleboro Redevelopment Authority that had lost state and federal funding and was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2009.

However, he appointed a majority of members who agreed with his efforts to turn the ARA around, including Robbins, who has chaired the ARA since 2009 and worked closely with Dumas.

This year, he teamed up with Fire Chief Scott Lachance to reorganize the fire department and with the city council to establish a meals tax and higher ambulance fees to help pay for education and public safety operations in the face of dwindling state aid.

He has often said he wants to be mayor as long as the voters will have him.