Oak Bluffs voters spoke their mind on money matters in the ballot box Thursday, approving overrides for the town operating budget and a new $8.3 million fire station. But a $6.8 million project to rebuild the town hall is dead for now after an override question failed.
Both the town hall and fire station projects were approved by voters on the town meeting floor Tuesday night.
The town hall question failed in the ballot box 446-398.
“There were a number of people saying one project at a time,” said selectman Walter Vail after the votes were counted Thursday night. “We can deal with that.”
Mr. Vail and incumbent selectman Michael Santoro were both reelected Thursday, edging out challenger Abraham Seiman. Mr. Santoro secured 556 votes, while Mr. Vail had 488. Mr. Seiman got 343 votes.
“I am happy to have another three years to help out,” Mr. Vail said. “There is lots to do.”
Mr. Santoro said he was honored and excited to be re-elected. “It’s a humbling experience,” he said. “I really feel we work as a team and people spoke out today that they want to continue the track we are on.”
Ewell Hopkins unseated longtime planning board member John Bradford 420-355, claiming his first elected position in town. While he was pleased to be elected, Mr. Hopkins said he wished there were more decided voters. A total of 119 ballots were left blank for that particular election. “We have to figure out how to engage more people,” he said.
Maura McGroarty, Mr. Seiman and Kimberly V. Burke were elected to the finance and advisory committee.
Amy Billings was reelected as a parks commissioner with 733 votes. Nelson Oliver was elected to a one-year term as water district commissioner with 658 votes. Michael Hoyt won a seat on the school committee, beating out Michele A. Moore 481-268. He replaces longtime member Priscilla Sylvia, who retired this year. Gail Barmakian, also a selectman, was reappointed to the wastewater commission with 616 votes. An open seat on the board of health received a large number of write-in votes but the outcome was still undecided.
The fire station question passed narrowly, 421-415.
Fire and ambulance chief John Rose said he was relieved “big time” when he heard the debt exclusion question had passed. “They came out and supported us,” Mr. Rose said. “It’s going to be a good, modern building.”
The $600,000 budget override question passed 476 to 375.
John Tiernan was elected to the cemetery commission with 604 votes. Raymond J. Moreis, Jr. got 559 votes to serve another term as water district commissioner, edging out opponent George Brown, who had 183 votes.
Laura B. Johnston was elected as town clerk with 716 votes.
Turnout was light on a sunny, breezy spring day. A total of 896 voters cast ballots, 24 per cent of the 3,655 registered.
Annual town elections were also held in West Tisbury and Edgartown.
In West Tisbury, voter turnout was just shy of 10 per cent, with 237 out of 2,466 registered voters casting ballots.
“It was a very quiet day around here,” town clerk Tara Whiting said.
Voters approved a ballot question to make the elected treasurer become an appointed position, 139 to 62. It was sole question on the ballot this year.
Selectman Richard R. Knabel was reelected to a three-year term with 153 votes.
Elected without contest were:
F. Patrick Gregory, moderator, 210; Tara Whiting, town clerk, 216 (top vote getter); Timothy Maley, constable, 209; Erik Lowe, board of health, 202; Katherine Logue, treasurer, 205; Brent Taylor, tax collector, 204; Jeremiah Brown, tree warden, 206; Linda Hearn, library trustee, 195; Gina Solon, library trustee, 179; Gary Montrowl, finance committee, 190; Katherine Triantafillou, finance committee, 165, Doug Ruskin, finance committee, 179; Cheryl Lowe, park and recreation committee, 202; Suzanne Hammond, park and recreation committee, 179; Virginia Jones, planning board, 183; Glenn Hearn, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, 177.
There were 125 write-in ballots cast for a three-year position on the board of assessors, but the winning candidate was not known at the time the polls closed.
In Edgartown, voters re-elected several incumbents who ran unopposed, and decided to switch the town clerk position from elected to appointed.
The town clerk decision was the sole ballot question this year, and it came at the urging of town clerk Wanda Williams, who said the job needed expertise that would be better assured through an appointed position. Town meeting voters approved the decision 83-66 at a special town meeting on Tuesday, and the same result came at the ballot box, with the outcome in favor 144 to 110.
A total of 267 voters came out to the polls Thursday, just over eight per cent of registered voters.
Selectman Margaret E. Serpa was re-elected to a sixth term with 220 votes. She was running unopposed.
Also re-elected without contest in Edgartown were Alan C. Gowell, board of assessors, 225; Susan Mercier, school committee, 205; Deanna L. Ahearn-Laird, library trustees, 199; Robert C. Avakian, library trustees, 220; Jane M. Varkonda, park commissioner, 231; Sean E. Murphy, one-year term as wastewater treatment commissioner, 208; David M. Burke, water commissioner, 202; Leslie Baynes, financial advisory committee, 217; Donna Lowell-Bettencourt, finance advisory committee, 212.
Scott Ellis, who was elected to a three-year term as wastewater treatment commissioner, was the top vote-getter with 234 votes.
Incumbent planning board member Robert V. Sparks was not on the ballot but received three write-in votes, according to the final tally. There was also no candidate on the ballot for board of health; Kathie Case received 19 write-in votes.
Olivia Hull, Remy Tumin and Sara Brown contributed reporting.