On Tuesday the voters of Dukes County will find a question on the ballot asking for approval to make an important change to our county government. The question and answer below may be helpful.
Q: Will I be able to vote to abolish county government?
A: No. The charter study commission, after 18 months of study, recommends retaining county government with minor changes.
Q: What will I be voting on?
A: Vote yes to support two-year terms for elected county commissioners. Vote no if you want to keep the current four-year terms.
Q: Why two-year terms?
A: Several reasons, it permits voters to support or replace each county commissioner at each two year election cycle, thereby empowering voters with greater influence on the operation of Dukes County. Two-year terms will encourage more people to offer themselves to public service who might be unwilling to run for office because of the current four-year commitment.
This in turn expands our choices of who to vote for.
On the negative side, some people say that running every two years is expensive and time consuming. These problems can be at least partially resolved by donating money to a candidate of your choice, and/or offering to help run their campaign. The benefits far outweigh the liabilities.
Q: Is there a chance that all the experienced county commissioners could be voted out in a single election?
A: Yes, and there is a chance that nude sunbathing at Lucy Vincent Beach in February will be a problem — possible but not probable.
Q: How is it that the charter study commission could work for 18 months and only offer this one change?
A: Considerable examination and debate occurred to reach their recommendations. The charter study has made, and the county commission is in the process of considering and implementing, many nonbinding administrative recommendations which do not require voter approval to streamline the operation, and enhance the quality of county government.
Your yes vote to adopt two-year terms will create a body of public officials who will be more accountable and responsive, and ultimately you the voter will have a broader field of candidates from which to choose.
Ted Stanley lives in West Tisbury and is a member of the Dukes County Charter Study Commission.