At a public forum on Wednesday, two candidates for selectman in Aquinnah squared off on topics that included affordable housing, federal education subsidies and the need for a finance committee in the Island’s smallest town.

The annual town election is next Wednesday, May 11 at the town hall. Polls are open from noon to 7 p.m.

Election will take place Wednesday, May 11 from noon to 8 p.m. — Mark Lovewell

In the only contested race in Aquinnah this year, Macey Dunbar and Gary Haley are vying for a three-year term on the board of selectmen to fill a vacancy left by Spencer Booker, who is not seeking re-election. About 20 people attended the Wednesday forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters at the Aquinnah Old Town Hall.

Neither candidate has held elected office in Aquinnah, although Mr. Haley serves on the town lighthouse advisory board, which formed last year. In February, Ms. Dunbar made a bid to become steward of the Gay Head Light, but her group Headers of the Light was narrowly outscored by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

Ms. Dunbar said her experience on the board of Bowen’s Wharf Company in Newport, R.I., made her familiar with the budgeting process. Her priorities as selectman would include establishing a finance committee and increasing the town’s federal impact aid for education. She said her efforts so far to form a finance committee had been ignored by the town moderator, who holds the appointing authority.

“Our residents show up and try to be part of our community, they should at least be called back if not welcomed and encouraged,” she said. “I am running for selectman to be that person in town, to be your voice for your government.”

Mr. Haley, a master electrician based in Aquinnah, said his own line of work has also made him familiar with keeping a budget. Reading from prepared comments, he described himself as a listener who makes careful decisions.

“We are a small town with few problems, but problems that need to be dealt with,” he said, adding that he gets along well with the current selectmen and town hall employees. One of his priorities as selectman would be keeping tax increases in check. “I can’t make any statement or promise that I’m going to lower any taxes,” he said. “But when I’m elected, I can sure as heck try to balance the budget and slow the rate of increase.”

Neither candidate had questions for the other, but a number of questions from the floor and from event moderator Judy Crawford helped distinguish their views.

Ms. Dunbar said in forming a finance committee, she would work with the moderator to make sure people are properly vetted. Mr. Haley agreed that the town could use a finance committee, but stressed the importance of qualified members. “I don’t know what the qualifications are,” he said, “but I would imagine it’s just not the average Joe.”

To lower taxes, Ms. Dunbar said she would look into a memorandum of understanding that emerged from a lawsuit many years ago and required the town to pursue federal reimbursements for education costs related to tribal housing. She believed additional funds could be obtained through a legislative earmark.

But Mr. Haley said the $11,000 the town already receives annually in so-called federal impact aid goes straight to the schools.

Both candidates supported an article on the upcoming town meeting warrant asking whether to allow for accessory housing apartments that could be rented affordably or provided to family members. “I’m all for it,” said Mr. Haley, who believed the change would help retain young people in town and benefit homeowners by allowing them to more fully utilize their land.

Ms. Dunbar said she herself is a renter and knows how hard it can be to live on the Vineyard year-round. She called the proposal an “absolute necessity.”

Also on the ballot are Elise LeBovit (board of assessors), Juli Vanderhoop (board of health), Carlos Montoya and Joanne Escher (planning board), and Michael Hebert (moderator). Ms. Vanderhoop, Ms. Escher and Mr. Hebert are all seeking reelection.

This article has been updated to reflect accurate polling hours in Aquinnah. The polls are open from noon to 7 p.m.