West Tisbury Voters Back Incumbents

By IAN FEIN

With a narrow show of support for the West Tisbury political establishment, town voters in the annual election yesterday returned to office an incumbent selectman and the longtime chairman of the board of assessors.

Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter earned 54 per cent of the vote to edge James F. Alley, 395-342, and assessor Michael Colaneri fended off two challengers with 40 per cent approval.

Only ten votes, however, separated Mr. Colaneri from government watchdog Jonathan Revere, who turned in a suprisingly strong showing. Mr. Colaneri earned 300 votes to Mr. Revere's 290, while selectman Glenn Hearn trailed far behind with 145.

Mr. Hearn acknowledged last night that his candidacy resulted in a split vote. Both he and Mr. Revere ran on platforms of change in the town assessing department.

"I guess I spoiled Jonathan's chance," Mr. Hearn said.

Voters also elected Richard R. Knabel and Brian H. Athearn to the finance committee in separate contested races, neither of which featured incumbents.

Some 760 residents, or 37 per cent of registered voters, cast ballots at the public safety building on a warm day that saw both rain showers and sunshine. It was a relatively light turnout for a town election that had the highest number of candidates running in contested races in more than 20 years. This year's ballot was also the first in more than two decades that did not include any Proposition 2 1/2 override questions.

After wading his way through months of political controversy, Mr. Manter said last night that he appreciated the challenge by his opponent and was pleased by the support shown by town voters.

"I'm glad they decided to allow me to continue my lifelong dream of serving as a West Tisbury selectman," said Mr. Manter, who works as a town police sergeant and is also a member of the town finance committee and the Up-Island Regional School District committee.

Mr. Alley, who served as a town selectman more than 40 years ago, was gracious in defeat. "I'm not going to let this devastate me," Mr. Alley said last night. "I applaud Skipper and wish him the best."

Facing a contested election for the first time since he joined the board of assessors more than three decades ago, Mr. Colaneri waited around the town public safety building last night until every hand-counted ballot was tallied.

"I'd like to thank all the voters who voted for me," Mr. Colaneri said once he was assured of his victory. "I will continue to represent the town the best I can."

Mr. Revere said he was bolstered by the close vote, and will continue to lobby for more transparency in the town assessing department.

"I see it as a sign that a lot more people want change in West Tisbury," Mr. Revere said. "I think it's going to be very interesting to follow the board of assessors in the next few months."

He said it was unfortunate that Mr. Hearn did not drop out of the race, and that he would not request a formal recount.

In the finance committee contests, Mr. Knabel outpaced his two opponents by almost a two-to-one margin, while Mr. Athearn solidly defeated Brian W. Abbott Sr. with roughly 58 per cent of the vote.

Mr. Knabel earned a three-year term on the committee with 388 votes to the 141 tallied by Daniel Pace and 113 by Jonathan P. Klaren, and Mr. Athearn won the two-year seat by a count of 382-285.

Elected without contest yesterday were: F. Patrick Gregory as town moderator, Timothy A. Barnett as constable and member on the board of health, Katherine Logue as treasurer, Brent B. Taylor as tax collector, Prudence M. Whiting as town clerk, Jeremiah Brown as tree warden, Murray Frank to the planning board, Leslie Baker and Elaine Pace as library trustees, and Richard Reinhardsen and Douglas Koepp Bardwell to the parks and recreation committee.