After failing at the ballot box two years ago, the Dukes County Commission took steps Wednesday to again attempt to change the role of county treasurer from an elected to an appointed government position, voting unanimously to petition the state for changes to county legislation.

The commission approved two measures: one to work toward changing the county treasurer to a position appointed by the commission, and another to allow the county to hire a treasurer from outside the county. Currently, only residents of Dukes County are eligible to become treasurer.

At the meeting Wednesday, county commissioner R. Peter Wharton said expanding eligibility to non-residents would also allow the county to properly search for and vet candidates for the position.

“Really see that someone has the professional background to succeed,” he said.

Former county treasurer Ann Metcalf resigned from her six-year term ending 2026 over the summer, and was replaced on an interim basis with former Tisbury town treasurer Tim McLean. The town has since begun a search for a new, full-time county treasurer to fill the role until another election for the position can be held in 2023.

County commissioners Wednesday cited difficulties in hiring a full time treasurer in their arguments in favor of redefining the position. As the county continues without a permanent replacement for Ms. Metcalf, commissioners said altering the position from elected to appointed has become all but a necessity.

“I support doing this,” commissioner Tristan Israel said. “I see urgency in doing this.”

The commission previously attempted to change the county treasurer from an elected to appointed position as a ballot measure in the 2020 election, with the back-of-the-ballot sleeper question turning into a surprise political fight. While county commissioners campaigned to change the role, citing the challenges of filling the position and a decade-old Department of Revenue report suggesting the change, a former treasurer mounted an opposition effort to keep the position elected, saying the treasurer should have independence from the county commission. Ultimately, the opposition won out, with voters rejecting the ballot measure with about 57 per cent of the vote.

In a phone call to the Gazette Friday morning, county manager Martina Thornton said it’s unclear how the process to switch the position from elected to appointed will change on this second attempt. She said it will be up to the state legislature to decide whether the question will need to be included on ballots in a future election.

“Presumably, because that’s what happened last time,” Ms. Thornton said.

If the question does appear on a future ballot, commissioner Keith Chatinover said a more focused information campaign might sway public opinion on the issue.

“We are not trying to circumvent the public,” he said.

In the meantime, the county will work to find a pathway to implement the legislative changes necessary to alter the county treasurer position.

“Let’s get this horse out of the barn,” said county commissioner Christine Todd. “I’m excited to aggressively pursue this.”