Longtime Chilmark town moderator Everett Poole will step down, the selectmen announced Tuesday.

Mr. Poole, who is 90 and has held the elected post for more than 40 years, announced his decision in an email to the selectmen Monday, town administrator Tim Carroll said.

Owner of the Chilmark Chandlery, Mr. Poole is equally well known on the Menemsha waterfront. — Jeanna Shepard

He is the Island’s longest-serving town moderator — a distinction formerly held by Edgartown moderator Jeff Norton, who stepped down in 2018.

“The moderator is not supposed to talk,” Mr. Poole said, addressing an audience as guest speaker at a Gazette Tuesday in the Newsroom event in 2019. “All he has to do is keep people on the subject, which is not easy sometimes.”

A Chilmark native and descendant of fishermen known for his Yankee ways, Mr. Poole has wielded the gavel since 1976 when he was elected moderator from the town meeting floor. He is known for his even hand and ability to trim the sails of long-winded voters. Last summer when the pandemic forced a delayed town meeting, held outdoors in the summertime, Mr. Poole presided as usual, this time wearing a straw boater and colorful red face mask.

He is equally well known on the Menemsha waterfront, where he owns the Chilmark Chandlery.

“I just wanted to start off by acknowledging the many years of service that Everett Poole has given us as a town moderator, and just thank him for his service,” Mr. Carroll said.

“I’ve never known anyone as moderator other than Everett and he has such a commanding presence up there in town meeting, he’s one of the most effective moderators I’ve ever witnessed,” said selectman and board chairman Bill Rossi. “He was huge.”

Selectman Warren Doty agreed, calling it an important moment for the town.

“He’s been interviewed by every newspaper reporter on Martha’s Vineyard over the past 30 years to talk about town meeting or the story of Chilmark and so on and so forth,” Mr. Doty said. “It’s an important change for all of us.”

Selectman Jim Malkin struck a personal note, describing Mr. Poole as a mentor figure in his life.

“He’s been a bit of a godfather for me personally, and even I think a wonderful part of our town, integral to the town character, integral to the way we look at things and the things that we value,” he said.

Just as Mr. Poole was in 1976, a new moderator will be appointed on the town meeting floor until the next election, selectmen said Tuesday.

Mr. Poole plans to attend the meeting as he always does, selectmen also said, only this time as a voter. “He said he’s going to be there, raising hell,” Mr. Rossi said.