Frank M. Fenner Jr. is Chilmark's newest selectman. He was elected overwhelmingly into office, winning 58 per cent of the vote in Wednesday's special election. He fills the unexpired term left vacant by the late Herbert Hancock. With 273 votes, he handily beat candidates Marc Villa (169 votes) and Elizabeth Pickett-Gray (24). There were 467 votes cast, and one blank ballot.
"I am thrilled," Mr. Fenner said yesterday. "I think the voters have spoken and it is time for me to go to work."
Mr. Fenner is Island born and worked for many years as a carpenter. He is best known for having bought two garbage trucks from Grant Brothers in 1976 and turning the business into Island Rubbish Service, which grew to a fleet of 20 trucks. He sold that business to BFI in 1993.
Mr. Fenner now shares ownership with his sister, Barbara, of the Menemsha Galley. His wife, Merrily, is a well-known Island singer.
If there was one thing that came out of the race for selectman, Mr. Fenner said, it's the need to have a capital plan for the town. "Hopefully we can work together and get a lot of these projects under way," Mr. Fenner said.
Concerns were voiced in the special town meeting last month about expansion plans for the town hall and library. Mr. Fenner said he favors both projects, but feels townspeople need to be better involved in the process. Chilmark will hold a special town meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, to vote on the Chilmark Public Library expansion project. The town hall expansion project will likely come up next spring at the annual town meeting.
Mr. Fenner said he thinks it is important for town committees pushing for the library expansion to prepare themselves well for the special town meeting. "We should not take on any kind of project of that magnitude without public involvement," he said. Mr. Fenner said he and the two other candidates were pretty much in agreement on a number of issues. All three wanted a capital plan. "Well, the town is starting to swing that way," he said.
This was not a particularly heavy turnout for a race for selectman. Town clerk Margaret T. Orlando said yesterday that on election day there were 786 townspeople who could have voted: "We usually average 80 per cent turnout in state and federal elections. A 50 per cent turnout is good, but it is not significant for Chilmark."
Mr. Fenner joins selectmen Warren Doty and Alex Preston on the town board.