On one side, there’s the “together we can change” candidate, and on the other, the “straight talk” express. We’re talking not about Obama and McCain here, but Kristal and Pachico.
Tom Pachico is the one positioned as your straight talk guy. If he sometimes comes across as a little combative, well, at least you know where he stands.
Consider this example, from Wednesday this week, as he talked about the race for selectman.
“If you want to say I’m a [expletive deleted] and you’d rather vote for him, go right ahead, but don’t tell me all he’s done for the town.”
It came in the context of yet another rehashing of the issue of what is to be done with Boch Park, the unattractive harborside parcel of land owned by Ernie Boch Jr. For years the town has been trying to find a public use for it. Last week’s town meeting heard some spirited exchanges between Mr. Pachico and Mr. Kristal about Mr. Kristal’s efforts to help negotiate a solution.
A week later, in this interview, Mr. Pachico was getting fired up again.
“He was going to facilitate a meeting. Well, three years later, it never got done,” Mr. Pachico complained.
“So he’s running on a platform of communication and cooperation, right? He’s gonna bridge the rifts.
“How the hell do you get up [at town meeting] and say there’s a plan sitting on Ernie Boch’s desk, that he’s never brought before selectmen and never showed it to us?
“Isn’t it a little ironic when you’re running on communication, that’s the first time we’ve ever heard about this plan?”
The Boch Park thing, he says, is just one example of his opponent having “made claim to a lot of things he’s had no part in.”
Mr. Pachico, of course, has had a part in Island public life for decades, in one form or another, and that is his larger point.
Even if people don’t always share his views, at least they know where he’s coming from.
An example of that, again from last week’s town meeting, was the issue of whether to spend almost $600,000 on major works to Veterans Memorial Park. Mr. Pachico was opposed to it; the meeting overwhelmingly endorsed it.
A week later he was just as strong in his assessment that much of the work will be “a huge waste of money.”
He is a man of strongly-held views, which is both a strength and a weakness. Even those who have long admired his blunt talking and street smarts concede it has made for strained relations in the town departments — people talk of his feud with the public works department.
There also is criticism of the way he has accumulated jobs, such as his positions, while selectman, on the port council of the Steamship Authority and as health inspector.
Damn the torpedoes. He will doggedly itemize all the trips he’s taken as a port council member, and why each was of benefit to the town. Asked about his record, he will not only state the positions he took on issues, but reargue them case by case, as to why others were wrong and he was right.
It, was, it seems, ever thus.
Mr. Pachico recalled that he got started in politics at age 16, when he got involved in the Little League program, and subsequently became “a little aggravated” at the lack of maintenance of Veterans Park. So he ran to become park commissioner.
“We got the field straightened out, put in a home run fence. The police department ran it over that winter.”
This is a man who likes to do things his way. And his way had achieved a lot in nine years as a selectman, he said.
“We had a defunct housing committee. They had a fourplex they built on Lake street and then they basically didn’t meet anymore. I thought it important we started providing houses.
“Now we have a damn good housing committee,” he said.
“I started the Tashmoo management committee. We have a damn good management and a good harbor committee.
“We fought for the embarkation fees; that’s worth $250,000 plus every year to the town.”
He’s running again, he said, because there’s still a lot to do.
“We need to finish [planning for future] municipal needs. We need to come up with a fire station and probably a consolidated town hall. The [suggested relocation of the] police station could happen.”
And then there’s a lot to be done on the affordable housing front.
“I’ve helped them from day one, lending support from day one.
“I’m an open book; I’m running on a platform that I support the working guy,” he said. I want the best bang for the buck. I’m tired of tax dollars being wasted by certain departments.”
There is, however, one issue on which Mr. Pachico will not express an opinion: beer and wine sales by Tisbury restaurants.
He thinks the majority will probably vote against it, but for once, he avoids a straight answer.
“I get one vote, like everybody else,” he said.