Tisbury voters will have only one election contest to decide on Tuesday, but it is a hot one, between two men who have served as selectmen, for whom it is a very personal contest.

Tom Pachico served nine years before Jeff Kristal beat him in the annual town election three years ago by a mere 14 votes. Neither makes any secret of the antipathy between them.

Talk to either of them about the issues in the campaign, and it very quickly turns into a recitation of the alleged shortcomings of the other.

The incumbent, Mr. Kristal, portrays himself as the methodical manager and his opponent as the confrontationist intent on rejoining the battles of the past. The challenger, Mr. Pachico, portrays himself as the forceful working person’s candidate with his ear to the ground, and his opponent as the out-of-touch representative of the big end of town.

When Mr. Kristal talks about his record over the past three years, he speaks of effort put in, mending fences. Example: the strained relationship between the board of selectmen and the town department of public works.

“It had got to the point several years ago where Fred [LaPiana, DPW director] came before the board and said ‘my commissioners don’t want me coming here because they don’t want me beat up.’ That’s what Tommy was doing,” said Mr. Kristal this week.

“So, one of the fences I mended was between Fred LaPiana and the board of selectmen, and between the board of selectmen and the DPW commissioners.

“There are some issues Tommy still carries over, I’m sure to this day, between Fred and the DPW and him,” he said, noting Mr. Pachico ran unsuccessfully for a DPW commissioner’s spot.

“And we don’t need to be creating problems which make it difficult for us to get work done in the town.”

Over the past three years, Mr. Kristal said, he and the other members of the current board, Tristan Israel and Geoghan Coogan, had made “great strides” not only in repairing that relationship, but in getting sometimes fractious parts of town government coordinating more smoothly.

“I think the board we have right now . . . has made significant progress in correcting issues we’ve had in the past. One was in the police department. We’ve signed a contract with the union which went unsigned for several years. We now have leadership in the police department. We have a very structured chain of command,” he said.

“I ran on a couple of things three years ago, and one of those goals and objectives was to foster better lines of communication, better leadership.”

Another goal, he said, was to make better appointments for town representatives on other bodies to stop what he termed the “self-appointing process.”

“Well, we’ve stopped it. We’ve given those key positions to qualified people,” he said, pointedly citing as an example the board’s appointment of George Balco to the port council of the Steamship Authority. Mr. Pachico served six years on the port council.

On the issues, though, Mr. Kristal and Mr. Pachico are apt to cite the same things, like the need to keep taxes down and limit spending during tough economic times, and the coming decision on whether or not to merge the Tisbury and Oak Bluffs police departments.

Both men are skeptical about the benefits to Tisbury of a merged police force; both suggest a more limited form of cooperation might be the best way to go.

They both believe, too, that the biggest issue of the next several years will be wastewater. The town is close to the limit of how much it can process, and there will have to be hard decisions about what areas of town will be sewered, how it’s going to be paid for, and how it will be processed.

But the agreement only goes to generalities and once more falls down on personalities.

Mr. Pachico scoffed at Mr. Kristal’s talk of better using revenues other than taxes, such as the embarkation fees derived from SSA traffic, Community Preservation Act and the Green Communities Act.

“He talks about being prudent in spending the Green Community funds we’ll receive. Well, we aren’t even accredited yet. We don’t even have any Green Community funds yet. It’s like taking credit for something you don’t have.”

As for the money the town gets from the embarkation fees: “That was because of Tristan and me going to war to get them.”

And the CPA money? He complains that the Vineyard Playhouse got funds for repairs, a couple of churches got funds for repairs, while nothing went toward much-needed repairs on the town hall.

“What’s prudent about that? They approve a lot of things that either aren’t necessary or people can’t afford right now,” Mr. Pachico said.

And on the matter of his so-called self-appointment to the boat line port council, Mr. Pachico offered this:

“They needed someone with my forceful personality to take on New Bedford at that point of time, and it came out to the advantage of Tisbury.

“I designed the park-and-ride. And got a lot of flak for it.”

Nor is Mr. Pachico apologetic for his past run-ins with the DPW.

“I’m not going to sit there and keep my mouth shut when I see money being wasted,” he said..

“When the rift started they called me a bully. I went out with [town administrator] John Bugbee and took pictures of complaints that we had from taxpayers — rotten trees that had fallen down in the cemetery, storm drains that were backing up in front of people’s houses.

“In some cases we had to shovel sand off the top of them to even see there was a storm drain there. We took them to the DPW board and it took them 20 minutes to vote, 3-2, to even look at them.”

Mr. Pachico said he saw little evidence of the better communication Mr. Kristal said he had fostered within the town.

“I was talking to someone on the water department yesterday, about how [the DPW] are putting new sidewalks down in town. The water department is going to have to rip them up in six months to put in a new main. That’s an example of a waste of money. The coordination isn’t there,” he said.

Mr. Pachico cited another example, relating to the wastewater issue.

“We just did a septic management program, which is not a bad thing — to open up every septic and check it out. On the other hand, people had to redo their septic systems in the Oklahoma, Park avenue and Hines Point section of town.

“Now, do you expect . . . those people who’ve spent between $15,000 and $50,000 upgrading their septic to be happy to be told they’re going to have to disconnect and tie into the sewer? That’s not smart. I fought for sewering for years. When we finally got it, it was a compromise. I said don’t do it half-assed. As soon as you get it done, you’ll have it maxed out.

“The way they’re giving out the water, they’re not being prudent,” he said, adding:

“Now they’ve got an article up to do an infrastructure study. We’ve already had half a dozen engineers go through it. It’s cost us a million dollars already and the taxpayers now have to shell out money to do the same thing all over again.

What Tisbury needed, he said, was a selectman who “knew something about reading plans and contracts, and who represented the interests of the working guys who do normal, Vineyard style things — hunting, fishing shellfishing, that kind of stuff.

“They don’t feel like there’s anyone on the board with that kind of experience.”

There was too much influence of Nimbys, he said, citing the controversy about fishermen refueling their boats at the Tashmoo town landing.

“They told them to refuel using 2.5-gallon cans. When you’ve got a 500-gallon tank, that’s a lot of trips.

“That’s who’s running this town at the moment,” he said.

The Tisbury annual town election is Tuesday; polling hours are noon to 8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall.