Three candidates are running for two open seats on the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen this year, each with a distinct vision for what they hope to accomplish in the coming three-year term.

Incumbent Greg Coogan is running for a sixth term, while Rich Michelson and Jason Balboni are running for the first time. Current chairman Kathy Burton will not be running for reelection.

Polls are open Thursday, April 12 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Oak Bluffs Library meeting room.

Mr. Coogan, who turned 69 last November, pointed to his 15 years of experience as a strength that separates him from the other candidates.

“I’ve been there a long time,” he said in a phone call with the Gazette. “I have a good perspective on what we’ve done.”

Mr. Coogan came to Martha’s Vineyard in 1983 to teach fifth and sixth graders at Tisbury school. After decades of guiding students in the classroom and coaching them on the softball field and hockey rink, Mr. Coogan retired and decided he’d like to serve as a selectmen.

Mr. Coogan said he’s proud of the work he’s done shepherding the roundabout project and working on a designated bike path between Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. He said the bike path is his dream and that Oak Bluffs is in the queue for state funding in the next two to three years.

Greg Coogan. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“What I’m always looking at is how we can come up with something that helps everybody,” he said. “It’s a beautiful ride for families and we have to make it safer.”

The other big item Mr. Coogan would like to pursue is improved options for affordable housing. He said he would love to work with Tisbury to come up with solutions due to the similarities and shared experiences between the towns.

“I was very lucky coming here when it [affordable housing] was available. It’s not now. Kids that grow up here and want to stay here...we need to help them out,” he said.

A big issue for Mr. Coogan on the town warrant this year is the proposition 2 ½ budget override of $250,000. He said that he understands people don’t want their taxes to go up, but paying for all the town’s necessities is a growing challenge.

“We need to pass the override,” he said. “We have some expenses outside of our bucket to reckon with, and we have to fund them.”

Mr. Coogan said that he can often be found on his sailboat, Weowyn, an Alden wooden sloop he’s owned for 40 years. He added that he’s likely work

ing on fixing something as a former plumber and electrician who’s done a little bit of everything.

He said that kind of experience and willingness to work on all kinds of issues over the years, from a new town hall to repairing East Chop bluff, is how Oak Bluffs residents know him best. “I think people know who I am. People choose me because they want more of the same.”

Rich Michelson — Mark Alan Lovewell

More of the same is exactly what Rich Michelson wants to avoid. Mr. Michelson, 66, currently serves as the vice-chairman of the Martha’s Vineyard airport commission and as an Oak Bluffs EMT.

After living on the Island for 32 years and working in human services most of his life, Mr. Michelson said he noticed that elder care wasn’t getting the attention it deserved by the town. He said that advice from his parents gave him the motivation to run for selectman as a way to highlight the issue.

“My parents taught me that if I felt like something wasn’t looking right or good, I should get involved. If I don’t try to change something or help out someway, it will eat me alive.”

He added that listening to speeches by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired him to run, in part to add more diversity to the board. Mr. Michelson’s wife is a member of the Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).

“What I love most about the Island is its diversity, especially the town of Oak Bluffs,” he said. “It makes me want to add to the diversity of the leadership of the town.”

Mr. Michelson said one of his main concerns is rising taxes for elderly residents, who also deal with mountains of medical bills. He said he would like

to raise tax exemptions for seniors in order to provide some relief.

“The elderly are mothers and fathers and grandparents and former leaders of our community and veterans. We owe it to them to do everything we can to help them.”

Mr. Michelson also said that he would look for new ways to create revenue sources for the town. One idea he suggested was to add a parking lot downtown and charge a fee for parking, with Oak Bluffs residents being exempt.

He added that he would like to clean up the dilapidated buildings downtown, such as the Island Theatre, and get rid of old houses which he called a blight on the town.

Other issues Mr. Michelson said he would like to tackle are the opioid epidemic, adding a full-time EMS employee to the fire department staff, and looking for affordable solutions to the erosion of East Chop bluff.

Jason Balboni. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Jason Balboni is the youngest of the group at 46-years-old. He said he’s more than qualified after serving the last three years on the finance and advisory committee and as vice-chairman of the Oak Bluffs personnel board. Mr. Balboni said he is proud of bringing public attention and increased funding to postemployment benefits (OPEB).

Mr. Balboni said he has a huge list of issues he’d like to tackle in the next term, starting with finding ways to get more value out of taxes and town departments in order to fund the high school and other regional entities.

“These are big issues that I see in the town right now,” he said. “I think I have some good ideas.”

He added that constructing more affordable housing in the community is crucial, though he said there isn’t a simple answer for how it will all get done.

In addition to serving in town hall, Mr. Balboni runs Balboni Appliance Service in Oak Bluffs, his business for the past 20 years, and is involved with the American Legion Post in Edgartown. He said that if elected he would focus on working with the selectmen with input from residents to create the first town master plan since 1998.

“I see what’s going on in town now and my common sense way of thinking could be helpful,” he said.

The selectmen seats aren’t the only positions open in Oak Bluffs town hall this year. Town moderator Jesse (Jack) Law is running for re-election against Catherine Buck for cemetery commissioner, a three-year appointment.

Josephine (Jojo) Lambert and Abraham Seiman are running for an open seat on the planning board, a two-year appointment.