Oak Bluffs voted in favor of catch-and-release shark tournaments, West Tisbury approved a new police station and Edgartown approved two spending projects during annual town elections last week. Voter turnout was sparse, between nine and 13 per cent, and few races were contested. Oak Bluffs voters approved a nonbinding referendum that would make shark tournaments in town catch and release only by a margin of 225 to 186.
The annual Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament, which offers prizes for the largest shark caught, is held at the Oak Bluffs harbor every summer. It has been a source of controversy because of the crowds it brings and the practice of hanging dead sharks to weigh them, though the event organizer said that the tournament has largely been catch and release over the last few years. The referendum was also approved at the annual town meeting. While it is nonbinding, some selectmen have said they would be influenced by the election results. The tournament organizer has said he would hold the tournament elsewhere if Oak Bluffs were to require catch and release.
The town also voted to exempt from Proposition 2 1/2 more than $975,000 for roadway and sidewalks improvements, with 274 to 112 voting in favor of the project.
The lone contested race of the day was for water district commission in Oak Bluffs, where incumbent Michael S. deBettencourt faced a challenge from George E. Brown. Mr. deBettencourt retained his seat, 318 to 56.
Selectman Gail M. Barmakian was elected to a second term with 315 votes. She was running unopposed.
Elected without contest in Oak Bluffs were Priscilla L. Sylvia, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank commission, 330; John D. Campbell, board of health, 324; Linda M. Wilson, cemetery commission, 304; Richard D. Combra Jr., 315; Lisa Anne Reagan, school committee, 321; Robert A. Iadicicco, wastewater commission, 272; Duncan Ross, water district moderator, 298. With 338 votes, Jesse B. Law 3rd was the top vote getter and retained his position as moderator.
Newcomers Herbert H. Kiehn Jr., 244 votes, James W. Klingensmith, 244 votes and Michael J. Taus, 266 votes were all elected to the finance and advisory committee, and David Oliveira, 317 votes, and George M. Warren, 281 votes were reelected as constables.
There were no candidates on the ballot for the Oak Bluffs planning board, but Brian Packish was the write-in winner with 30 votes. If he declines the position, a planning board member will be appointed by the selectmen.
Out of 3,300 registered voters, 437, or just over 13 per cent, came out for Thursday’s election.
Turnout was slightly better in Edgartown, where 379 of 3194 voters, or almost 12 per cent, cast ballots.
Edgartown voters approved an extra $634,000 assessment in real estate and personal property taxes for two new fire trucks, voting 265 to 105 in favor, and backed a Proposition 2 1/2 override to pay principal and interest for painting the water department standpipe. That vote was 278-89.
Michael J. Donaroma, who was unopposed, was reelected to a fourth term on the board of selectmen. He got 262 votes.
Also elected without contest in Edgartown were Harold T. Zadeh, board of health, 307; Robert M. Cavallo, planning board, 317; David B. Rossi, school committee, 320; Denise Searle, library trustee, 306; Carl E. Watt, library trustees, 275; Glen Searle, park commission, 324; Glen Searle, wastewater treatment commission, 312; John S. Lovewell, water commission, 293; Jonathan Searle, constable, 322; Steven C. Jordan, financial advisory committee, 263; Edward W. Vincent Jr., Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank representative, 189.
There were no candidates for one spot on the board of assessors, but Donna Goodale received 119 write-in votes. A second seat on the financial advisory committee also had no candidate on the ballot, but Thomas Durawa received the most write-in votes with 27.
In West Tisbury, voters approved a ballot question to exempt the debt for the $2.5 million police station at the public safety building in North Tisbury by 167 to 59.
“We’re going to celebrate tonight,” building committee chairman Norman Perry said after the results were announced.
Voters also reelected selectmen Cynthia Mitchell to a three-year term with 184 votes.
Elected with no contest were F. Patrick Gregory, moderator, 205; David Merry, board of health, 207; Richard Cohen, board of assessors, 191; Katherine Logue, treasurer, 195; Brent Taylor, tax collector, 193; Tara Whiting, town clerk, 209; Jeremiah Brown, tree warden, 196; Virginia Jones, library trustee, 175; Daniel Waters, library trustee, 196; Sharon Estrella, finance committee, 154; Jonathan Revere, finance committee, 148; Mark Bernard, parks and recreation committee, 191.
Out of 2,420 registered West Tisbury voters, 238 came to the polls Thursday, a 9.8 per cent turnout. Town clerk Tara Whiting, who was the top vote getter with 209 votes, called the turnout “pathetic.”
Weather was mostly mild Thursday, with temperatures reaching 57 degrees on the Island.
Remy Tumin contributed reporting.