In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced all six Island towns to delay their annual town meetings and elections in an unprecedented shift of age-old democratic institutions.

Fast forward to a year later, and it is happening all over again.

Every Island town appears poised to reschedule its town meeting until May or later in the hopes of warmer weather and a more heavily vaccinated Island populace.

Although Massachusetts General Law prohibits towns from rescheduling their municipal elections, many towns are prepared to vote on large capital spending projects that were delayed last year and will require Proposition 21/2 override votes at the ballot box. In response, some have already set dates for special elections after their town meetings.

And long-serving town officials across the Island have also retired or stepped down from their posts, signaling a broader reordering of local governments.

In Oak Bluffs, selectman Greg Coogan confirmed last week that he will not seek re-election after 18 years on the board, citing a desire to spend more time with his grandchildren and the benefits of a younger person holding the post.

The decision has led to a three-way race for two seats on the town’s five-member board. Incumbent selectman Jason Balboni is seeking a second term, while two other candidates have filed papers to run: Emma Green-Beach and Rich Michelson. Ms. Green-Beach is the executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group. Mr. Michelson is a retired fire lieutenant and EMT in town.

The election will be held on April 15.

Town administrator Bob Whritenour said the town is working on holding the meeting in the Tabernacle again in May, although a specific date has not been set.

In Edgartown, longtime selectman Arthur Smadbeck will run unopposed for his seat on the three-member board of selectman, town clerk Karen Medeiros confirmed this week. The election will take place on April 15.

The town voted on Monday to shift the town meeting to May 22, with the hopes of holding it under a tent at the Edgartown School like last year. A $3 million warrant article to raise and refurbish historic Memorial Wharf will top the agenda and require a separate ballot box vote to authorize a Proposition 2 1/2 override, if approved. At a meeting Monday, town administrator James Hagerty said a special election would be held on the Tuesday or Thursday after town meeting.

In Tisbury, one-term selectman Jim Rogers is up for re-election. But the election will not be held until June 22. Nomination papers become available March 8, with the filing deadline set for May 4.

Tisbury’s annual town meeting is scheduled for June 12. The $56 million Tisbury School overhaul will appear on a separate special town meeting warrant.

In West Tisbury, longtime selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter, 3rd is running unopposed for his seat on the board. The annual town election will take place on April 15.

The town has delayed the annual town meeting to May 18. And with a $300,000 Proposition 2 1/2 general override request expected, the town has already scheduled a special election for May 20, town clerk Tara Whiting-Wells said in a phone call Thursday.

A similar proposal is taking shape in Chilmark, where a variety of capital projects will likely lead to Proposition 2 1/2 override requests, officials said. Town leaders have agreed to delay town meeting to May, although final dates have not been set for the meeting or the special election.

Selectman Bill Rossi is up for re-election. The election is scheduled for April 28, with the deadline to submit nomination papers set for March 10.

On Tuesday, selectmen also made the surprise announcement that longtime town meeting moderator Everett Poole would step down from the role. Mr. Poole, who is 90, was the Island’s longest-serving town moderator and a pillar of Chilmark’s annual town meeting.

Selectmen said a moderator will be elected from town meeting floor. The moderator position will then be a ballot item in the special election days later.

In Aquinnah, longtime selectman Jim Newman announced that he would not seek re-election after 18 years on the board, citing his age and the need for a new face on the board. According to town clerk Gabriella Camillieri, two residents have taken out papers to run for the seat: Thomas Murphy and Nancy Gilson Slate. The town election is scheduled for May 13

Town administrator Jeffrey Madison said Aquinnah is also planning to delay its town meeting to June, although a date has not been set. He said the delay was in the hope that more residents could be vaccinated by the later date.

“There are a lot of old people in town,” Mr. Madison said. “Like me.”

Dates for annual town meetings and elections, insofar as they are known, follow:


ATM not set

Election May 13


ATM not set

Election April 28


ATM May 22

Election April 15

Oak Bluffs

ATM not set

Election April 15


ATM June 12

Election June 22

West Tisbury

ATM May 18

Election April 15