Incumbent Gregory A. Coogan and challenger Kathleen A. Burton emerged yesterday as winners in a crowded race for two open seats on the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen, while longtime moderator David E. Richardson fended off challenger Jesse (Jack) Law 3rd to hold onto his seat for another year.
Mr. Coogan, a longtime teacher at the Tisbury School, easily won a third term on the five-member board of selectmen with 626 votes. In the race for the other seat, Ms. Burton prevailed with 571 votes, followed by challengers Gail Barmakian with 486 votes, Herbert (Bert) Combra with 449 votes and David Wessling with 48 votes.
A total of 1,225 voters — roughly 38 per cent of the town’s 3,195 registered voters — turned out for the election on a sunny early spring day.
For Mr. Coogan, who is expected to return as board chairman this year, yesterday marked the second consecutive election where he was the top vote-getter among selectmen candidates. “I again appreciate the support, it’s humbling really,” he said minutes after results were announced last night. “I will do my best to continue to serve the people of Oak Bluffs.”
Ms. Burton was at the receiving end of a parade of well-wishers at the polls last night. “It’s incredible,” she said. “It’s an honor to have a chance to serve this town I love.”
She pledged to improve communication between selectmen and the public, encourage more town planning and seek additional sources of revenue. She wants to get more people involved in government.
“It takes a village to make things run right. I want everyone in this town to be heard; everyone should have a voice,” she said.
Reached by phone last night, Ms. Barmakian was gracious in defeat, vowing to continue to serve the town as zoning board member and wastewater commissioner.
“I was thinking all day, if I lose this race, I really don’t lose. Because I got to talk to everyone and learn how they want this town to improve. There are so many other ways to help the community,” she said.
Mr. Richardson, who faced his first challenger in over 10 years, defeated Mr. Law 707 to 427. He complimented his opponent. “I thought it was a strong showing for Jack. He has a lot of experience, and it’s obvious people connected with what he had to say,” Mr. Richardson said.
Voters also approved several ballot questions, including a debt exclusion question to borrow $500,000 to dredge Sengekontacket Pond. Selectman Duncan Ross, also chairman of a committee charged with improving water quality in the pond, was pleased with the vote. “[The pond] is a vital part of this town. I think people realize keeping it healthy should be a priority,” he said.
In another contested race, Melanie Erin Marchand defeated two challengers, Melanie M. Bilodeau and Bill McGrath, to win a three-year term on the school committee. Incumbent Judith O’Donoghue decided not to seek reelection. Ms. Marchand was the clear favorite after Ms. Bilodeau announced she would withdraw, and questions surfaced about whether Mr. McGrath was eligible to serve because he works as a teacher at the high school.
Ms. Marchand won with 507 votes, followed by Mr. McGrath with 389, and Ms. Bilodeau with 143 votes.
In the only other contested race, incumbent Kevin H. Johnston easily defeated challenger Deacon Perrotta for a three-year term on the water district commission, 691 to 298.
Elected without contest were: William White, board of health (866); Jesse (Jack) Law 3rd, cemetery commissioner (863); John Bradford, planning board (816); Joseph deBettencourt, tree warden (883); Mac Starks, finance committee (662); Hans vonSteiger, wastewater commission (772); Frank Case, Mimi Davisson and Linda Marinelli, finance committee (658, 675 and 577 respectively).