Despite the concerns of two Chilmark selectmen, town residents showed an outpouring of support for longtime harbor master Dennis Jason, who was reappointed on Tuesday. Mr. Jason sat calmly in the front row of the meeting room at town hall with his hands clasped as selectmen aired their concerns, speaking largely for members of the public who they said were unhappy with his performance.

Selectman Bill Rossi said people had come to his office in the last few days with complaints. “And I’ve had people call me and endorse you wholeheartedly,” he added. He said Mr. Jason’s management and public relations skills were the main areas of concern.

When Mr. Rossi asked for public comment, several people sitting in the back of room stood, one after the other, to vouch for Mr. Jason’s qualifications as a waterman with experience in commercial fishing and an insider’s knowledge of Menemsha Harbor.

J. B. Riggs Parker noted that with the Army Corps of Engineers planning to dredge the the channel to Menemsha Pond this fall, there will likely be an influx of boat traffic in the harbor. “What I think is overall important, especially for our harbor,” he said, “is the quality of boatman that Denny is.”

Charter captain Scott McDowell questioned the need for a new harbor master after more than a decade. “I like what he does, I like the quality of the harbor, I like what gets done in the harbor,” he said. “It’s better than it’s been in a long time.”

Also speaking in support of the reappointment were selectman Jonathan Mayhew, town moderator and longtime waterfront sage Everett Poole, harbor advisory committee chairman Andy Goldman, and oyster farmer Stephen Broderick.

But selectman Warren Doty said he had long felt the need for change in the department. He stressed the importance of speaking for the members of the public who were not present but who also wanted change.

“Somebody asked this group of people to come to this meeting,” Mr. Doty said after the supporters had spoken. “There are a lot of people who would speak in a different way.” Several of the supporters denied being asked to attend the meeting. Mr. Goldman said he didn’t even know the reappointment would be on the agenda.

Only Mr. Doty spoke directly against the reappointment. But Mr. Rossi said half the town was unhappy with the harbor master’s work. “I would hope that moving forward we can get above that 50 per cent threshold,” he said.

“We all have our strengths and weaknesses,” he added.

“I’m never going to make everyone happy,” Mr. Jason said, noting that running a marina requires more than just writing tickets and performing safety checks. He said his responsibilities include managing politically sensitive issues such as leases and wait lists for moorings.

“Some of these things, quite frankly, the selectmen don’t always back me on,” he said. “I’m always out there hanging in the wind. And you guys come along and poke. I try to do the best job with what we’ve got and the monies that we have.”

He argued that increased maintenance would depend on increased funding, and that the department is staffed largely by young people who aren’t necessarily qualified to make repairs on their own.

Mr. Rossi again emphasized that people’s main concern had to do with public communication. “As a selectman I need to address it,” he said.

But in the end, Mr. Jason’s experience in commercial fishing and his familiarity with the harbor seemed to outweigh the concerns.

“It really needs to be a commercial guy,” said Mr. Mayhew. “If you get someone from out of town that doesn’t really know, or a new in-town member, the commercial guys are going to take advantage of him, I think, and it’s going to be a very hard job.”

Mr. Poole, a former commercial fisherman who still operates a ship chandlery in Menemsha, believed that a replacement would require at least two years of training under Mr. Jason. “You need that background to do the job that he’s doing,” he said.

The selectmen voted 2-1 to reappoint Mr. Jason, with Mr. Doty casting the dissenting vote.