Candidates Set for Fall Races

Election Will Decide Composition of Land Use Planning Agency; Future Course of Dukes County Leadership Hangs in Balance


Two farmers and three developers are among 13 candidates who will vie for nine elected seats on the Martha's Vineyard Commission in the state election this November.

Established by an act of the state legislature in 1974, the regional land use commission is vested with unique powers to protect the ecological, cultural and archaeological resources of the Vineyard. Nine of the 21 commission members are elected at large every two years. The remaining members are appointed by the towns, the county commission and also the governor.

At least one and not more than two candidates must be elected from each of the six Vineyard towns.

The field of candidates for the commission this year includes four candidates from Edgartown, four from West Tisbury, two from Aquinnah and one each from Chilmark, Tisbury and Oak Bluffs. Absent any strong write-in candidates, this means that the election will yield two members from West Tisbury, Aquinnah and Edgartown and one from each of the other three towns.

In Edgartown, James Athearn and Christina Brown will seek re-election, and Sally Apy and Ronald Monterosso will seek election as new candidates. In Oak Bluffs, Richard Toole will seek re-election. In Tisbury, John Best will seek re-election. In Chilmark, E. Douglas Sederholm will seek election as a new candidate. In Aquinnah, Megan Ottens-Sargent and Deborah Moore will seek election as new candidates, although Ms. Sargent has been an appointed member of the commission for the last three years. In West Tisbury, Andrew Woodruff and Linda Sibley will seek re-election, and Paul Adler and Robert Mone will seek election as new candidates.

The deadline for signature certification with the local town clerks was July 31; the state filing deadline is August 27.

For voters the choice will be clear this year when it comes to the MVC: Do they want to elect candidates who favor conservation, or do they want to elect candidates who favor more growth and have been openly at odds with the commission's environmental protection ethic over the years?

Mr. Adler and Mr. Monterosso have worked together on development projects on Chappaquiddick in the past, and last year Mr. Monterosso sued the Martha's Vineyard Commission over the Chappaquiddick district of critical planning concern (DCPC). Mr. Mone, who served on the commission briefly in the 1980s, works in insurance and real estate and has been employed as a local front man for the last two years by a group of developers who want to build a luxury golf course in the southern woodlands. The golf course project has been rejected twice by the commission in close votes in the last year and a half.

Mr. Athearn owns Morning Glory Farm and is completing his first term on the commission. Ms. Brown works as the assistant to the Edgartown planning board and is completing her third term. Ms. Sibley has served on the commission for six terms; she is also a businesswoman who owns the Vineyard Electronics Radio Shack store in Vineyard Haven.

Mr. Woodruff owns Whippoorwill Farm in West Tisbury and is completing his first term on the commission. Ms. Apy was an active member of a citizen group that opposed the Oak Bluffs golf course project at the outset.

Ms. Ottens-Sargent owns an art gallery in Aquinnah. Ms. Moore was actively involved in the founding of the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank in the early 1980s.

Mr. Toole is finishing his first term as an elected member of the commission; prior to that he was an appointed member for a number of years. He works as a carpenter and caretaker.

Mr. Best has served on the commission for many years; he works as a real estate agent in Vineyard Haven. Mr. Sederholm is an attorney who lives in Chilmark.

Three incumbents will not seek re-election: Marcia Cini, an elected member of the commission from Tisbury; Robert Zeltzer, a member from Chilmark and James Vercruysse, a member of the commission from Aquinnah.

In the race for the Dukes County Commission, six candidates will vie for four seats this year, but the field is somewhat confusing because three of the candidates are from Oak Bluffs and only one can be elected because of a rule that limits the county commission to two candidates from any one town. (County commissioner Roger Wey of Oak Bluffs does not face re-election this year.)

There are seven county commissioners, and four are up for re-election this year, including Leslie Leland from West Tisbury, Daniel Flynn from Oak Bluffs, E.B. Collins from Edgartown and Robert Sawyer from Tisbury. Mr. Leland, Mr. Sawyer and Mr. Flynn are all seeking re-election, while Mr. Collins is not. Also running for seats are Nelson Smith of Edgartown and Paul Strauss and William Shay, both of Oak Bluffs.

Adding even more confusion to the pile, Mr. Shay, Mr. Strauss and Mr. Sawyer all appear on the state primary ballot in September because the county commission race is partisan and they are running as Democrats. Mr. Flynn, Mr. Smith and Mr. Leland are all running as unenrolled candidates, and will automatically appear on the state ballot in November. The three Democrats will also automatically appear on the state ballot, unless someone is bumped by a write-in candidate, because four candidates may be nominated for the county commission by each party on the primary ballot.

No one is running on the Republican primary ballot for the county commission.

The state primary is on Sept. 17; the state election is Nov. 5.