The Oak Bluffs annual town election is active this year with four key contests. Five candidates are running for two seats on the board of selectmen; three candidates are running for one seat on the school committee; two candidates are running for a seat on the water commission; and two candidates are competing for town moderator.

The election is next Thursday at the town public library. Polling hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In the selectmen’s race, incumbent Greg Coogan seeks reelection to a third three-year term on the five-member board, where there is also an open seat because selectman Roger Wey is not seeking reelection. The four challengers are Gail Barmakian, an attorney and current member of the wastewater commission and zoning board of appeals; Kathleen Burton, a real estate broker and former chairman of the Cottage City Historic District; Herbert (Bert) Combra, a former selectman and highway superintendent; and David Wessling, a former planner at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

In the race for town moderator, incumbent David Richardson has been challenged by Jesse (Jack) Law 3rd.

The school committee race, where a seat is open because Judith O’Donoghue is not seeking reelection, may in the end be no contest due to the withdrawal of one candidate and possible disqualification of another. The candidates are Melanie Marchard, Bill McGrath and Melanie M. Bilodeau. But Ms. Bilodeau has already withdrawn from the race, although her name still appears on the ballot, and Mr. McGrath may be declared ineligible to serve on the school committee because he works as a teacher at the high school.

In the water district, former town water superintendent Deacon Perrotta, who unexpectedly resigned last year, is running against incumbent Kevin Johnson.

In telephone interviews with the Gazette this week, the candidates for selectmen spoke about the issues, which mainly center this year on fiscal reform.

Greg Coogan said he thinks the town can do more to secure state and federal funds, and he believes there are areas where the town can tighten its belt on spending. A longtime teacher at the Tisbury School, he does not support recent efforts by the finance committee to place a portion of the school budget onto an override ballot question.

Mr. Coogan said both the Oak Bluffs School and high school have done a good job of cutting costs in recent years while being asked to do more, and he said he was disappointed some people blame the schools for increased costs.

“The simplistic view is you can save money by dropping a few teachers, but it’s not that easy. The schools are being asked by the state and federal governments to be more accountable. They are being asked to do more while spending less. If you ask me, they are doing a great job of finding that balance,” he said.

He said a number of expensive projects, such as the $500,000 proposal to dredge Sengekontacket Pond that comes before voters next week, should be placed on hold until the economy improves.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of getting that pond dredged, but I recognize the financial issues we are dealing with. To drop a half million on taxpayers right now may not be the best idea,” Mr. Coogan said.

Gail Barmakian called finance reform a priority. She said the town should avoid Proposition 2 1/2 overrides when possible, and she believes more can be done to cut costs. “I’m all for getting state and federal grant money, but we can do more with the budget we have in front of us. We should focus on things we know we can change, and there are creative ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality,” Ms. Barmakian said.

She also suggested more can be done to protect rural neighborhoods and said she plans to make affordable housing a priority “The rising cost of housing is forcing our year-round residents to leave, which leaves us with a big hole,” she said.

Ms. Barmakian said she believes in a straightforward approach to government. She wants to see more routine maintenance of the town waterfront and periodic reviews of the town budget so there are no surprises at the end of the fiscal year.

“I would say I am more proactive than reactive, and I think town government should be, too,” she said.

Bert Combra also describes himself as a straightforward, no-nonsense leader who can draw on his extensive experience as selectman, Martha’s Vineyard Commission member and town highway superintendent. He hails from the town’s best-known political family — his brother, Richard Combra Sr., nephew Todd Rebello and late brother in law Anthony (Tubby) Rebello are former selectmen.

He said he believes in open government and wants selectmen to get more information to the public and be more inclusive during meetings. “The more people understand an issue, the more comfortable they are. A lot of times people fear something or fight something that is good, just because [town leaders] haven’t explained it to them,” he said.

Mr. Combra said he would work to find grant money and travel to Boston to appeal to state leaders to generate additional aid for the town. He cited his experience lowering insurance rates for the town and finding new sources of revenue such as dockage fees for the town harbor.

He said the town should be creative when it comes to finances.

“You can find a different or cheaper way of doing things . . . we have no choice but to get creative,” he said.

Kathleen Burton also spoke of the need for open government and said she would like to launch a monthly online newsletter with updates from town departments and committees. “We have so many good people doing great work, and a lot of times people just don’t know about it. Putting together a newsletter is simple thing that will get people involved in their government,” she said.

She has stressed the need for more planning and would like to see the town update its master plan, which has not been changed since 1998. And she would like to find ways to streamline town departments. “We should stop and ask, are we as efficient as possible? Can we make changes and still be as efficient?” she said.

And she said more networking is in order. “Towns everywhere are finding creative ways to save money . . . we should be talking to them,” she said.

Mr. Wessling pledged to bring a business-minded approach to government. He said a combination of mandatory spending and revenue uncertainty had created a potentially volatile situation for residents and taxpayers. He understands why people are scrutinizing town finances, he said.

“It’s not unusual in times of economic uncertainly for residents to want more control over town spending. They have every right to ask questions and get involved,” he said.

He would like an overhaul of the town Web site, noting that much of the information on the site is outdated. He would like to see the town do quarterly financial reports and would like the teachers’ union to consider renegotiating their salary contract.

“I understand the [school budgets] come down to balancing the financial needs of the town with providing a solid education to students. But I have to think that with a budget that size, there are areas for [savings]; there is room to be fair to everyone,” he said.