Call it new math, but the Dukes County Commission may have finally figured out how to get the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission under its thumb: make it bigger.

Despite the fact that county commissioners have the sole authority to appoint members of the board that oversees the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, airport commissioners have stubbornly resisted any oversight.

Tension between the two commissions has existed for years, but it ratcheted up in recent months over the airport commission’s handling of several messy issues involving airport personnel. In April the Dukes County Commission replaced two of seven commission members, John Alley and Ben Hall Jr., when their terms expired.

In June, Dukes County Commission chairman Leonard Jason Jr. called on the entire commission to step down. “The county commissioners believe the time has come for the airport commissioners to re-examine their behavior, their actions and their conduct in their meetings,” he wrote in a letter to the airport board. At a meeting, he put it more colorfully: “They are all good people but put them together in one group and they just become dysfunctional.”

Needless to say, the commissioners did not resign. Then came what seemed to be a knockout blow to the county commission. A superior court judge, in a preliminary ruling, backed the airport commissioners in a case to establish their autonomy.

Not to be thwarted, the county commission last week appointed former West Tisbury police chief Beth Toomey from a field of eight candidates to fill the seat of resigning commissioner Peter Bettencourt, then followed up this week by voting to increase the size of the airport commission from seven to nine members. Two more people, Myron Garfinkle and Robert Rosenbaum, were immediately appointed, bringing to five the number of new airport commissioners named in the last six months. Three more appointments will come due in February, and it’s certainly likely that the county commission will continue on its out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new track.

Expanding a board is not generally a recipe for improved effectiveness, and it is unfortunate that the county commission felt compelled to resort to this tactic to clean house. But the fact that eight candidates came forward to fill a single seat is an indication that something is amiss in the way airport affairs are being conducted. And if the county commissioners are sincerely motivated, as they say they are, by a desire to bring fresh blood to a toxic situation, we can only hope this political sleight of hand works.