Kerry Scott, the incumbent selectman who campaigned for reelection on a platform of continued reform and openness in town government, easily defeated challenger Mac Starks during the annual town elections yesterday to win a second three-year term on the five-member board.
Ms. Scott received a total of 608 votes; Mr. Starks received 293 votes.
Total turnout on a rainy, windswept day was 972, or about 30 per cent of the registered voters.
After a year in which she worked to raise public awareness about unauthorized personal service contracts, conflict of interest for elected officials and potential violations of the open meeting law, Ms. Scott said yesterday's election was a sign that voters were pleased with her performance.
"If you look at the larger picture, I would say the election says residents are pleased with the direction the town is headed in, and I am so glad they have given me this chance to continue to work to make this town the best it can be," she said.
"In only a short time we have seen this culture of secrecy that once defined the town practically disappear. People now feel more comfortable asking questions and getting more involved in their government."
Mr. Starks, the town custodian, ran for selectman during last year's annual election and finished with 157 votes. He said he was disappointed with the overall results this year, but is encouraged that he nearly doubled his tally over last year.
Mr. Starks said he plans to run for selectman again next year on a campaign made stronger by another year of experience and name recognition.
"Just meeting and talking to all the people this year made [the election] worth it. And I'll be even more ready to dance again next year," he said.
In the biggest surprise of the election, longtime town political figure Linda Marinelli and former selectman lost her seat on both the board of health and the finance advisory board.
Challenger David Caron bested both Mrs. Marinelli and Chip Mitchell to win one open seat on the board of health; while incumbents Thad Harshbarger and Arthur McGrath joined with challenger Douglas Best to defeat Mrs. Marinelli for three open seats on the finance board.
In the race for board of health, easily the most heated of the election, Mrs. Marinelli found herself at odds with challenger Chip Mitchell, who openly criticized the performance of health agent Shirley Fauteux. Mrs. Marinelli defended Ms. Fauteux's performance, and singled out Mr. Mitchell for a negative campaign that focused on the health agent.
Mr. Caron, a pharmacist at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, remained neutral on the topic of the health agent's performance.
Earlier this week, Mr. Mitchell announced he was pulling out of the race, and asked his supporters to instead get behind Mr. Caron. Because Mr. Mitchell made his decision after the deadline to withdraw, his name remained on the ballot.
Minutes after the results were announced last night at the Oak Bluffs library, Mrs. Marinelli remained defiant and optimistic.
"They're not getting rid of me that easily," she joked with several friends and town officials. "I'll just have to find a new way to serve [the town]."
Reached by phone yesterday evening, Mr. Caron said he didn't feel those who voted for him were opposed to any of the other candidates or the town health agent; although he agreed more could be done to make the board of health more user friendly to residents.
"Whether it's fair or not, there is this perception that the board of health is sometimes hard on businesses and builders, and I think we can take steps to change that," he said.
In the only other contested races, incumbent cemetery commissioners James Maseda defeated challenger Charlene Radcliffe 530-324; and challenger Sharon Rzemien and incumbent David Oliveira notched 481 and 591 votes, respectively, to defeat incumbent Richard Mavro for town constable. Mr. Mavro had 448 votes.
In the only ballot question, voters said yes to a nonbinding question asking whether the town should continue to allow the use of town property for events related to shark tournaments. The vote was in 458 in favor of continuing the shark tournament, and 386 against.
Winners in uncontested races were: David Richardson, moderator, 655 votes; Richard Combra Jr., park commission, 650 votes; James H. Westervelt, planning board, 632 votes; Lisa Anne Reagan, school committee, 758 votes; and Priscilla Sylvia, Martha's Vineyard Land Bank commission, 766 votes.