After serving 24 years on the Chilmark select board, Warren Doty will not be seeking reelection for his ninth consecutive term this year. His announcement came at a select board meeting on Tuesday, where Mr. Doty encouraged other interested parties to pursue nomination papers this month.

“I’ve considered it a privilege to serve as a member of the select board all this is time for me to step back,” Mr. Doty said at the meeting, reflecting on a long career in town politics that began on the Chilmark school board 35 years ago.

A retired schoolteacher, Mr. Doty and his wife Nan moved to the Island from Philadelphia in 1977, with hopes to pursue quiet, small-town life, he said. In 1984, Mr. Doty founded a wholesale fish buying business that he ran on-Island for the next 20 years and became involved in fishermen’s advocacy groups.

Mr. Doty served on the town’s school board and planning board before being elected to the select board in 1999. He is now 79 years old.

At the meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Doty lauded the major improvements made to town infrastructure during his tenure, which have included rebuilding the library and town hall, constructing a new school, capping the landfill, constructing several new docks and enacting a retreat plan to confront erosion at Squibnocket beach.

Mr. Doty also spoke about the immense changes he has witnessed in Chilmark over the years, especially in the last decade. He recounted a story illustrative of the changes, when during an off-Island vacation, Mr. Doty found out that then-president Barack Obama would be spending his vacation in Chilmark.

“I was attending a folk music workshop, playing the banjo and having a good time, and I got an urgent message from town hall,” he said. “The secret service was demanding that we close South Road.”

What ensued was a long back and forth in which the U.S. government eventually won out.

“I spent a lot of time...saying to the secret service ‘We can’t close South Road’ and they said, ‘Oh yes you can.’”

Speaking to the Gazette by phone this week, Mr. Doty elaborated on the changes to town over the years.

“Instead of being a quiet little place down the road, known for its fishing activity, it’s become a huge resort destination,” he said. “We’ve just experienced enormous change and enormous pressure for development...we never used to have houses with pools or tennis courts.”

That pressure threatened to drown Chilmark beneath a “river of money,” Mr. Doty said, using a term the late David McCullough coined about the Vineyard. That river, however, has also brought new opportunities.

“Because we have such a healthy tax base that there are a lot of projects we were able to do,” Mr. Doty said, referring to the aforementioned infrastructure projects, and especially the burgeoning Chilmark school.

“We have a very well-funded school system...the school is blossoming right now.”

After governing through several years of pandemic and Zoom meetings, Mr. Doty simply felt that it was the right time to introduce new energy to the board.

“People ask me ‘who do you want to see get elected’ and I say, ‘I don’t have any idea,’” Mr. Doty said at Tuesday’s meeting.

In terms of advice for a new select board member, Mr. Doty recommends approaching the job with an eye towards deliberation.

“Small town government in Massachusetts is not like a business. There is no organizational chart with a CEO at the top of the pyramid,” he said. Instead, it is “a web of authority, at the center of which is the town meeting and election.”

Mr. Doty said he plans to use his extra free time to play more music, a passion which began at the age of 13. He plays guitar, piano and, of course, the banjo.