The loose ends of Tisbury’s three-day-long town meeting last week will be tied in the ballot box next Tuesday, as voters revisit eight Proposition 2 1/2 override requests. The selectmen put all non-emergency expenditures over $10,000 on override questions this year, but because the bulk of the spending and borrowing items failed on town meeting floor, the main focus for voters next week will be a single contested race for town selectman.
The incumbent is board chairman Tristan R. Israel, who voters have elected four times for total of 12 years on the board. His opponent is innkeeper Jeffrey C. Kristal, current chairman of the zoning board of appeals and past president of the Tisbury Business Association. Both men have full resumes of public service current and past, both in town and Island-wide.
Mr. Israel, 58, who runs a landscaping business and performs locally as a singer-songwriter, estimates he spends 20 to 25 hours per week doing public service. Most of that is spent on selectman matters, but he is also a member of the Dukes County Commission, sewer advisory board, Lagoon Pond bridge committee, Island Housing Trust and Dukes County Charter Study Commission — which he played a part in creating last year.
“I’m running for reelection because I still have the energy and the willingness to serve,” declared Mr. Israel, who has also served on the town conservation commission and planning board, and spent many years on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. “And while I now have the experience, I’d like to think I still look at things with an open mind and a newcomer’s perspective,” he added.
Mr. Kristal, who runs the Crocker House Inn on Crocker avenue with his family and is also a member of the Dukes County Charter Study Commission, has another view.
“I think in 12 years, you become kind of complacent — stagnant in your ideas — and it takes a new, fresh look to move things along,” he said. “I’ve always stepped up to the plate and I think I can have a positive impact on the town.”
In his time serving on town and regional boards, Mr. Israel has been known as an active leader, a talkative and self-deprecating public official who drinks endless cups of coffee and attends equally endless numbers of meetings in the course of an ordinary week. When he served on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, Mr. Israel was outspoken and conservation-minded, manning the barricades against development. As a selectman, he has clashed at times with the Steamship Authority, unafraid to defend the interests of the main port town.
“I hope I’ve earned people’s trust over the years,” Mr. Israel said, noting that he thinks the current board of selectmen has a positive chemistry. “We’re able to have frank discussions about the issues and if there are disagreements, they’re not acrimonious,” he added.
Mr. Israel said he sees space and building issues being one of the foremost issues facing the town — what to do about the fire, police and ambulance departments, which are all need new housing. He said he will focus on trying to build more consensus over the next step, since voters rejected a plan to buy land for a combined emergency services at town meeting last week.
Both candidates are interested in bringing more revenue into the town. Mr. Israel said he would like the town to pursue grant monies more aggressively — as well as other means of generating money for the town. “I think we need to be creative,” he said.
Mr. Kristal said he has worked on the revenue enhancing front for years — helping to coordinate Last Night, First Day, helping to see the Capawock movie theatre reopened last year, attending an annual cruise ship convention in Miami for the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce to invite cruise ships to the Vineyard and helping to organize the 30th anniversary screening of Jaws in Owen Park.
“I think overall I would provide a lot of leadership to allow things that have slipped through the cracks in the past to occur,” he said, pointing out that wireless Internet in the harbor is long overdue. “I have this hotel background that says if you give people the amenities, they’re going to stay a lot longer than one or two nights,” he said.
He said he also supports allowing beer and wine sales in restaurants, believing it would benefit the town beyond helping businesses, like increasing the embarkation fee fund. Since many visitors go to Oak Bluffs on their last day in order to have a drink with lunch, he said, they end up taking the ferry from the Oak Bluffs port, he said.
Mr. Kristal said he is also interested in negotiating an arrangement to use the Boch lot by Five Corners, which is currently vacant and unused. Turning the lot into a business would bring money to the town through taxes, he said.
A healthy business community in town is certainly one piece of the puzzle, Mr. Israel said, but not the only one.
“While working with the business community has certainly been a priority, it needs to be recognized that there are many other interests in Tisbury that also need to be recognized and paid attention to,” Mr. Israel said. “It’s difficult for a working family to live in our town with rising costs. We need to look at things like affordable housing to help keep people who live here and contribute to our community on many levels — make it so they can continue to afford to live here.”
The annual town election will be held at the American Legion Hall Tuesday; polling hours are noon to 8 p.m.
Voters will also consider eight override requests totalling about $510,000, including two borrowing items and roughly $225,000 in capital expenditures that were approved at town meeting last week.
Questions two and three ask the town to borrow $135,000 for a new ambulance and $150,000 to replace the Tisbury School gym roof. Questions 13 and 14 — $25,000 each — will go into town funds for a disability program and employee sick/vacation time.
Other override requests include:
• $35,305 to fund the new position of full-time fire chief;
• $40,000 for maintenance dredging of the Tashmoo channel;
• $50,000 to replace William street sidewalks;
• $50,000 to fund engineering, surveying and legal expenses to create a connector road between State and Edgartown Roads.
The remaining six ballot questions will be moot, since they failed at town meeting.