Chilmark town residents will cast their ballots in a two-way select board race on Wednesday, April 24. 

Jeffrey Maida and William Meegan are both running to fill the seat of longtime select board member Bill Rossi, who announced earlier this year that he wasn’t seeking reelection.

The two candidates responded to questions sent to them by the Gazette. Their answers, lightly edited for clarity, style and length, appear below.

The annual town election will take place at the Chilmark community center, with polls open from noon to 8 p.m.

Jeffrey Maida

Jeffrey Maida — Ray Ewing

Occupation: For the last several years I have worked with my nephew in his landscaping company, Coutinho Lawn care. I also manage my own business, Maida Caretaking. For 30 years I was the manager of the Net Result, a wholesale and retail seafood establishment in Vineyard Haven.

Current and previous town board service or relevant roles: I was a member of the Chilmark Volunteer Fire Department for 20 years, beginning at age 16. I have been on the harbor advisory committee for 12 years and currently serve as chair. I am a member of the Menemsha commercial dock repair or replace working group and I also serve on the West Dock security camera working group, which is in the process of completing its work.

What encouraged you to run for select board? I was born and raised in town and have benefited from the support and encouragement of a number of well-known town residents and respected town leaders, especially as a young adult entering the workforce. They helped ensure I had an opportunity to work in the commercial fishing industry during its heyday. Their planning and work on town boards, supported by the voters, established a youth lot zoning provision that later allowed me to receive a youth lot and build a house where I continue to reside. I am fortunate to call Chilmark home and I am now able to contribute my time and experience to give back to the town that has supported me so well.

What is the most critical issue for Chilmark? Climate change and sea-level rise is a single topic that is currently, or soon will, affect a large number of town responsibilities including public safety, town finance and debt management, natural disaster response, managing at-risk town assets and planning to interface with private sector interests as managed coastal retreat is necessary and inevitable.

What efforts need to be made to address this issue? The town docks around the entire Menemsha harbor perimeter are currently suffering from a combination of impacts from sea-level rise and the increasing frequency and severity of coastal storms - simultaneous with an aging or deteriorating infrastructure. The town’s response to these climate-based events is going to occupy significant town resources in both the near and long term. Overseeing effective planning, reviewing cost-benefit options along with the town debt load and exploring potential financial assistance and grants are all critical responsibilities of the select board. Similarly, south shore erosion and safe public access to the town beaches is an ongoing responsibility of the town that is likely to become more challenging, expensive and complicated in future years. Private property owners face similar challenges with diminishing water quality in the coastal ponds affecting riparian owners as well as the public users of the ponds. These problems can be traced back to nutrient loading from septic systems in addition to acid rain and global warming. As a select board member, I think it’s important to support the work of the boards and committees that have direct jurisdiction in each of these areas and to work with public and private partners to plan for an efficient response that reflects Chilmark’s values.

Why should residents vote for you? Throughout my candidacy this spring I have put in the work to inform myself, to gain knowledge in areas where I’m less familiar and to be prepared to contribute to important areas. I have attended many of the select board meetings over the past three years where many of the issues I’ve referenced here have been entertained. When I am less familiar with a topic, I am known to research the written record as well as seek information from knowledgeable boards and individuals to inform myself. I am ready to immediately begin my work as a select board member, familiar with many of the current issues. I will honor the town’s 330-year history while also recognizing preservation, managed change and growth are all part of the future.


William Meegan

William Meegan — Ray Ewing

Occupation: Retired contractor

Current and previous town board service or other relevant roles: I served as planning board chair for five years of the decade I sat on the board and participated on other committees, as well as resurrecting the Summer Sunday morning softball games at Peaked Hill in cooperation with the town and summer community.

What encouraged you to run for select board? I am running in response to the many people who reached out encouraging me to return to my constructive service to the town.

What is the most critical issue for Chilmark? The critical issues facing Chilmark are that the locals are being priced out of the real estate market and we are losing our community. One problem is that predatory corporations and individuals are looking at Chilmark and the rest of the island as a profitable investment with greater returns than the stock market. People with extraordinary means are arriving here and supplanting our modest aesthetics with their ostentatious display of wealth, and with little regard for their neighbors.

What efforts need to be made to address this issue? We voted in a “big house bylaw” a few years ago that needs to be revisited, upgraded with stricter reviews and conditions. Fractional ownership should be outlawed. Short-term rentals have led to the evaporation of affordable year-round and off-season rentals, and the revenue generated by taxes should be completely applied and designated to offset those effects. We should be using the funding for rental assistance, not just adding it to the general fund, and it could be used to encourage subsidized building projects like the Peaked Hill Pastures development, and loans for garage apartments and in-law accessory apartments.

Why should residents vote for you? My past experience serving the town demonstrates my leadership capabilities and effective execution of responsibilities that will serve the town well.