The ranking veteran on the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen held onto his seat by a whisker yesterday during one the closest races in annual town election history.
Roger Wey, who has served on the board for 18 years, defeated challenger Christine Catherine Todd by 489 to 484, a margin of only five votes. After the polls closed last night, Ms. Todd said she would formally request a recount in the coming days.
The other incumbent selectman, Greg Coogan, received a total of 606 votes, making him the top vote-getter as he lands a second term on the board. Newcomer McKinley (Matt) Starks received 157 votes.
All four candidates were vying for two open seats on the five-member board.
A total of 958 residents - approximately 30 per cent of the town's registered voters - went to the polls Thursday, a relatively low number compared to recent elections. Turnout at the past two elections topped 1,200 voters, while the election three years ago attracted over 1,400 voters, according to town officials.
Mr. Wey, the top vote-getter in both of his last two races, said he was surprised by the slim margin of his victory. And while he admitted the vote was perhaps a bit too close for comfort, he said he was just glad to be re--elected.
"I am happy with the opportunity to serve the people of Oak Bluffs for the next three years ago. The most important thing is that I won and I will continue to serve the people as I have in the past," Mr. Wey said.
Ms. Todd said she was disappointed that she lost, but took comfort in the fact so many voters supported her. "It might be even harder to take, just because it was so close. But overall, I am happy with the experience," she said.
"Honestly, I think they had to work very hard, maybe harder than they expected," she added.
Asked if she would run again, she smiled and answered: "Let's just say I'm not going anywhere."
Mr. Starks said he was also pleased at the outcome of the election, despite the fact that he lost. He has lived on the Island for three years and described the campaign as a way to meet people and earn their trust. He said he plans to run for selectman again next year.
"Most people in town already knew me, but they didn't know my name or what I was all about. This was about taking the first step. You can't get into the room until you get your foot in the door," Mr. Starks said.
Mr. Coogan called his re-election a good barometer of voter satisfaction over his first term in office. "As a town we're headed in the right direction, and I think voters realize I am able to keep things calm and moving forward," he said.
Mr. Coogan said he could not interpret why Mr. Wey won by only five votes. "I guess it's a hard one to read this year. All I know is I'm glad so many people supported me. It's a good feeling," he said.
Voters also agreed to exempt the debt on a $3.25 million new septage and dewatering component for the wastewater treatment facility from the provisions of Proposition 2 1/2.
A nonbinding resolution to support the Massachusetts Estuaries Project passed by a wide margin of 807 to 49. Another nonbinding resolution asking voters to support the concept of a municipal campus in the area of Pacific avenue and School street was also approved by a margin of 530 to 325.
In the only other contested race, for three open seats on the finance and advisory committee, three incumbents won: Frank H. Case with 506 votes, Mimi Davisson with 532 votes and Peter Palches with 499 votes. Challenger Kris W. Chvatal trailed with 295 votes.
In uncontested races: David E. Richardson won a one-year term as town moderator with 663 votes; William A. White won a three-year term on the board of health with 691 votes; Allan A. deBettencourt Sr. won a three-year term as park commissioner with 724 votes; Judith Ann O'Donaghue won a three-year seat on the school committee with 675 votes; Jesse B. Law won a three-year term as cemetery commissioner with 691 votes; Joseph deBettencourt won a three-year term as tree warden with 701 votes; Erik R. Albert won a five-year term on the planning board with 554 votes; Michael Perry won a two-year seat on the finance and advisory committee with 619 votes; Susan Desmarais won a three-year term as wastewater commissioner with 621 votes; and Kevin Johnson won a three-year term on the water district commission with 667 votes.