West Tisbury Voters Reelect John Early and Approve Eleven Override Questions

By JULIA WELLS

Voters in West Tisbury stuck with the old ways and handed longtime selectman John Early a tenth term in the annual town election yesterday.

Mr. Early, who was first elected 27 years ago and is the senior selectman on the Vineyard, won easily over challenger Cynthia Riggs. The final tally was 553-189.

"I would just like to say that I'm delighted and I am very grateful for the continued support and confidence of the West Tisbury voters," Mr. Early said after the votes were counted.

"If there is a message it's that the voters have confidence in their town government to conduct business in a fiscally responsible and economic fashion," he added.

"I thought it was a good race and a fair race. I thought both of us were decent and when I saw John tonight I congratulated him," said Ms. Riggs, who said she will continue her weekly practice of attending selectmen's meetings. "I am disappointed that I didn't win, but I will support all the selectmen," she added.

The election saw a decent turnout on a chilly, blustery spring day - 756 voters cast ballots, or 38 per cent of the 1,966 registered in this town, known as the rural agricultural center of the Vineyard.

In the only other contest on the ballot incumbent tree warden John Gadowski beat challenger Jeremiah Brown 400-265.

West Tisbury voters were in a spending mood this year, voting without exception to approve a long list of overrides to Proposition 2 1/2, the state-mandated tax cap.

A total of 11 override questions were approved, including:

* $242,157 in school and town budget monies (473-253).

* $16,000 for a town revaluation project (448-261).

* $70,000 to upgrade software for town financial departments (427-276).

* $21,800 for upgrading emergency services to paramedic level (659-72).

* $10,486, also for the paramedic upgrade (651-79).

* $65,000 to rebuild the tennis courts at the elementary school (369-336).

* $70,000 for a new brush breaker fire truck (469-244).

* $14,326 for the town share of housing authority expenses (468-241).

* $75,000 to build pathways on State Road (400-321).

* Bond debt exemption for the Goe-thals land in Lambert's Cove (557-165).

* Bond debt exemption for a town road reconstruction project (499-205).

Elected without contest this year were:

F. Patrick Gregory, town moderator; David A. Merry, board of health; Timothy A. Barnett, board of health; Katherine Logue town treasurer; Raymond Houle, board of assessors; Brent B. Taylor, tax collector; Prudence M. Whiting, town clerk; Sharon Estrella and Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter, finance committee; Marilyn Hollinshead and Ernest Mendenhall, library trustee; Eileen Maley, planning board; Robert Holt, park and recreation committee.

Mr. Early said if he was elected, this will be his last term. How will he spend the next three years?

"Just doing my job," he said last night, adding:

"I think part of the job of being a selectman is looking beyond the instant. I want to bring the town hall renovation project to some kind of conclusion and I also hope to be working toward the development of some decent affordable housing for both young people and the elderly in the town of West Tisbury."