My MVC Picks

‘Tis the season for endorsing candidates, in case anyone hasn’t noticed. I’m not going to endorse anybody. I’m going to tell you who I’m voting for, and a few words of why.

I’m not going to tell you who I’m supporting for president, or for U.S. senator. You already know that. I’m not going to tell you who gets my vote for U.S. congressman, state senator, or state rep, partly because I don’t know and partly because you don’t care. I’m not sure I do either.

This is about the race for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, in which I have a particular interest: I’m running for public office for the first time in my life.

First off, a word about how the MVC election works. There are nine seats to be filled. Your ballot will therefore say “Vote for not more than NINE.” What the ballot doesn’t say is that there must be at least one elected commissioner from each of the island’s six towns, and that there can be no more than two. This is important: it means that if you vote for three candidates from the same town, you are throwing your vote away. This year there are three candidates running from each of four towns: Tisbury (Vineyard Haven), Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, and West Tisbury. At least one person from each of those towns is going to lose. Only one person is running from Aquinnah and one from Chilmark. They are both going to win.

The top vote-getter in each town gets elected. Then all the other candidates are arranged in order, from highest vote total to lowest, and we move down the list: you’re in, you’re in, you’re in. But — big but — the third-place finisher from any town doesn’t get in no matter how many votes he or she has. The election officials will skip that name and move to the next.

When you have three people running for no more than two seats, “bullet voting” is a strategy worth considering. This means you vote only for the person you most want to win.

I’m voting for myself (West Tisbury) and for Madeline Fisher (Edgartown). Both towns have an competent incumbent with high name recognition: Linda Sibley in West Tisbury and Christina Brown in Edgartown. They are almost certainly going to be the top vote-getters from their respective towns whether you or I vote for them or not. To bullet-vote or not to bullet-vote? It’s up to you. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

I’m voting for Camille Rose. As the only candidate from Aquinnah (and currently the selectmen’s appointee from that town), she’s a sure thing, but she’s also knowledgeable, commonsensical, and willing to speak her mind.

The only candidate running from Chilmark is Doug Sederholm. His apparent contempt for the public at the roundabout hearings made an impression: no way am I voting for him. I’m writing in the name of Chilmark’s Lenny Jason instead. Lenny is currently the county’s appointee to the commission. Writing him in isn’t likely to change anything, but I’m doing it anyway.

I’m voting for Clarence A. Barnes III — who is much better known as Trip — and David Willoughby from Tisbury. Both are immersed in the island’s working world, Barnes as the proprietor of Barnes Trucking and Willoughby as a general contractor. Barnes has been fighting the roundabout from the beginning. He’s skeptical about the MVC’s importance and wants to see if it can be improved. Willoughby’s ideas about the MVC’s role are similar to mine, and he thinks that attention should be paid to the overwhelming majority of Vineyarders who oppose the roundabout. So do I.

I’m not voting for anyone from Oak Bluffs. The current commissioners from that town, Breckenridge and Hancock, haven’t been representing Oak Bluffs: they’ve been representing the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen. (In the case of Hancock, this is understandable, since he’s currently the selectmen’s appointee.) Watching them in action, I came to the conclusion that they first decided to back their board of selectmen, then they proceeded to hear and evaluate all information through that filter.

More than any other single body, the Oak Bluffs selectmen are responsible for saddling the island with the roundabout mess. And they’ve bent over backwards to avoid letting the town have a real say in the matter. Oak Bluffs was the only town whose citizens didn’t get to vote in last spring’s non-binding referendum. Judging from his statement in the Vineyard Gazette‘s election story, newcomer Joe Jims is already dancing to the selectmen’s tune. At least one of these guys is going to get elected, but they’ll get no help from me.

What I’ve learned from training Travvy: Click and treat the behaviors I want to encourage. Don’t reward the behaviors I want to go away.

Behavior modification 101: Behavior that’s reinforced tends to continue. I don’t want to reinforce the anti-democratic, arrogant behavior of the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen. The MVC has encouraged and colluded in that behavior, whether by design, inertia, ignorance, or some combination I don’t know. But we the people need to stop reinforcing it. Now.

The Vineyard Gazette‘s profile of all the candidates does a good job of conveying what each candidate is about. Check it out — and vote, please!

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About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has two blogs going on WordPress. "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories" is about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard. "Write Through It" is about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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3 Responses to My MVC Picks

  1. dabodog says:

    Can I write in Travvy? 😉

    Like

  2. Barb Winters says:

    Susanna,
    I’m off island this week but you got my vote as did Madeline since i voted absentee ballot for the first time. Didn’t realize it was so easy-at least here in Edgartown. Best of luck.
    Barb

    Like

  3. daveparent says:

    Best of luck to you !

    Like

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