Tisbury Voters Choose Thomas Pachico

By MAX HART

Tisbury voters chose the familiar over the untested and handed selectman Thomas W. Pachico a third term in the annual town election on Tuesday. Mr. Pachico beat challenger Jamie M. Douglas 520-315.

And in a strong show of support for two affordable housing initiatives, voters said yes to adopting the Community Preservation Act as well as the creation of a Martha's Vineyard housing bank. The legislation passed in a 503-319 vote, while the housing bank was approved by an almost identical margin, 509-315.

Over 32 per cent of registered voters - 869 out of 2669 - turned out on a bright, warm spring day.

Voters also elected John Bacheller to a three-year term on the school committee. Mr. Bacheller, who is a retired teacher and vice principal, easily defeated Maura M. Valley 539-207.

In the only other contested race, Leo P. DeSorcy (578 votes) and David J. Ferraguzzi (448 votes) won three-year terms as public works commissioners, edging out Timothy S. Stobie (347 votes).

But all eyes were on the race for selectman. Mr. Douglas, 32, who has twice run unsuccessfully for a spot on the board in the past two years, was seen this year as a legitimate threat to Mr. Pachico's seat. But while Mr. Douglas did gain a significant increase in votes from last year's election, voters preferred the status quo.

"I am putting this in a positive light," Mr. Douglas said by phone yesterday. "I got about 100 more votes than last year, so I feel my campaign is gaining momentum. I am in this for the long haul, and I will continue to stick by my belief that this town needs serious change in order to make progress."

Mr. Douglas said he will continue pursuing his goals through his post on the town planning board and will most certainly run for selectman again next year.

Mr. Pachico was vacationing in Florida and could not be reached for comment on his election victory.

With Tisbury's affirmative vote on Tuesday, every town has now adopted the Community Preservation Act, which calls for a three per cent surcharge on property taxes to be put toward affordable housing projects, open space and historic preservation. That opens the door to millions of dollars in matching funds from the state, which will match, dollar for dollar, the total amount of fees raised across the Island.

"If I could only use one word, it would be satisfying," said Abbe Burt, an advocate for affordable housing who spearheaded the public relations campaign for the two initiatives. "I am very pleased that Islanders have stepped up to the plate and recognized the serious problem in housing that we are facing. That all six towns have joined in this effort together and decided to contribute in addressing this issue is huge. Now we really have more of a chance to do something positive for our community than ever before."

The four Vineyard towns that passed the Community Preservation Act this year will start collecting fees beginning July 1. Chilmark and Aquinnah adopted the act at their town meetings four years ago. Tisbury's vote also nudges the concept of a housing bank closer to reality. Modeled after the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank, the idea calls for generating money through a one per cent seller-paid transfer fee on real estate transactions.

"Now the towns can move forward in planning how to use that funding, and that's exciting," Ms. Burt said. "The great new reality is that at town meetings next spring, voters will be able to actually start using their share of the CPA money for housing and preservation projects in their towns. And if all goes well in Chilmark and Aquinnah, we can start to work on drafting legislation for the housing bank this summer and fall, when there will be many public input sessions on how to to start down this new road."

Elected without contest on Tuesday were:

Deborah Medders, moderator, three years; Marion A. Mudge, town clerk, three years; Roy Cutrer Jr., assessor, three years; Herbert F. Custer, board of health, three years; David J. Schwab, water commission, three years; Thomas M. Robinson, land bank commission, three years; Sandra A. Johnson-Pratt, Judith S. Miller and Marilyn P. Wortman, library trustees, three years; and Larry J. Gomez, Muriel L. Mill and Antonio D. Texiera Jr., finance advisory committee, three years.

Robert W. Doyle won a spot on the finance advisory committee as a write-in candidate with 76 votes, and Robert Aldrin was elected to the planning board as a write-in candidate with 21 votes.