Jeff Kristal and Tom Pachico almost bumped, then warily skirted one another as they went to take their seats at Tuesday’s Tisbury candidates’ forum.

With the collision averted, the crowd laughed, but there was no denying a certain tension in the air as the two big men lined up to put their respective cases to be elected selectman.

Three years ago, Mr. Kristal won the position from Mr. Pachico, the incumbent, by a mere 14 votes. Now, Mr.Pachico is back for a rematch, in the one and only contest of Tisbury’s upcoming town elections.

Both men were civil at this first head-to-head event, but there also was a little undercurrent of niggle in it.

Mr. Kristal spoke first, stressing measures taken to contain costs in Tisbury over the past three years, which he called “probably the toughest economic times that we’ve faced in this country since the Great Depression.

“I’m proud of what I have done and what the board has done,” he said, enumerating a list of cost-containment measures implemented over the past three years.

There was the cross-training of the harbor master’s and shellfish department staff, the accessing of federal money for a new harbor master’s vessel, a new information technology sharing agreement with Oak Bluffs, an early retirement program and a health insurance opt-out program for town staff, application for a bond rating review, and limiting budget rises for town departments to zero over three years.

On the noneconomic front, Mr. Kristal trumpeted the introduction of beer and wine licenses to town restaurants, the restoration of the Tashmoo Spring Building, increased support for affordable housing, action to beautify the town and several environmental initiatives, including the installation of a couple of solar trash units.

Then he got to the niggly bit. He noted the current board of selectmen had “improved damaged relations” with several town departments.

And he promised that if he were re-elected, the board would “continue to stay focused and we will stay drama-free.”

Then it was Mr. Pachico’s turn, and he began by setting out his credentials in local service: eight years as a Memorial Park commissioner, nine years as a board of health commissioner, nine years a selectman, six on the Port Council, and more than six as Tisbury’s representative with the Land Bank.

He recapped some of his past achievements: He fought for and won embarkation fees from the Steamship Authority, he was the force behind establishing the park-and-ride facility, the Tashmoo Management Committee.

Mr. Pachico implied the current board was not assertive enough. Why was it, for example, that after years of talking about getting NStar power poles removed from Main street, they were still there?

Mr. Pachico promised to represent vigorously the people of Tisbury, if not always to agree with them.

“I don’t know how to play politics. I don’t know how to tell you just whatever it is that you want to hear,” he said, pointedly.

“If you don’t agree with what I say, no problem. I’ll still be your friend tomorrow.”

And as the forum progressed, it was that matter of style, more than policy differences, which dominated.

Mr. Kristal kept portraying himself as a peacemaker. “You don’t have to fight in Tisbury. I don’t like to fight with people. You can get a lot more done with honey than you can with vinegar,” he said at one point.

“We’ve come a long way with mending fences,” he said at another.

And Mr. Pachico kept portraying himself as the straight shooter who never hid his agenda — even if it meant getting in people’s faces sometimes.

“I’ve always been fair and straight and I’m not going to tell you something just for the fact that you want to hear it,” he said at one point.

“I say what I mean, I mean what I say,” he said at another.