Oak Bluffs voters head to the polls on Thursday, April 13 to choose among three candidates running for two open seats on the town’s select board.

Dion Alley, Thomas J. Hallahan and Kerry Mark Leonard are vying for two three-year terms. They are seeking to fill seats being vacated by Ryan Ruley, who is stepping down after serving one term, and Brian Packish, who has served two terms.

The three candidates responded to questions emailed to them by the Gazette. Their answers, lightly edited for style and length, appear below:

The annual town election will be held in the Oak Bluffs library meeting room. Polls are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Dion Alley — Ray Ewing

Dion Alley

Occupation: Energy transition coordinator at Vineyard Power. RDASoft IT technician for the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

Previous or current town board service or other relevant roles: Finance committee, energy committee and capital committee, Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative board, MVRHS building committee, Cape Light Compact board, Island Teacher negotiations, Red Stocking Fund volunteer

What encouraged you to run for select board?
My friends, family and community. I believe that I can help move the town forward during these uncertain times. We have many issues that must be discussed and decided on as a town and Island.

What is the most critical issue facing Oak Bluffs?
Wastewater, water, affordable housing, climate change, high school, East Chop Bluffs revetment, harbor jetties, ponds, buildings, roads, schools and services.

What efforts need to be made to address that issue?
While we have taken some steps, we as a town and Island need to do even more. For me, the number one job of the select board is to lead the town in addressing these issues. We need to find smarter, long-term solutions that will be impacting us and our children for years to come. We are a diverse people who need to come together as a community and Island to solve these complex issues together. None of these issues are isolated and need to be looked at as a community. As we undertake these issues, we must maximize the effectiveness of taxpayer funds we are spending. We as a town do not have the luxury of getting these decisions wrong and need a board that will make it a priority. We also need to create processes and policies to help manage the day to day and so our town administrator and department heads will be empowered to make decisions.

Why should residents vote for you over the other candidates?
First, I want to thank Mark and Tom for running for select board. We need more people like them to get involved and help us solve the issues I mentioned. We need everyone. The issues we have are much larger than just Oak Bluffs and how we solve them will require people who have a strong background in solving complex problems through collaboration, communication and inclusion. From our seniors to our school kids — we need to come together. I am uniquely qualified with my Oak Bluffs roots and career serving in the U.S. submarine service, working with foreign governments, global energy and manufacturing companies. [I have] the unique ability to bring people with diverse backgrounds and experiences together in finding the common goal from which we can all work on solving.

Thomas Hallahan — Jeanna Shepard

Thomas J. Hallahan
Occupation: Senior director of administration, advancement and finance at Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. Retired college professor in health sciences, education and public policy for more than 30 years.

Previous or current town board service or other relevant roles: Advisory committee, Dukes County commissioner, executive director of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, executive coordinator of Healthy Aging Martha’s Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard campus coordinator at Cape Cod Community College, advisory board at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, advisory board at Martha’s Vineyard Center for Education and Training, board of directors at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, member of the Possible Dreams Auction at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

What encouraged you to run for select board?
To give back to my community and help maintain its unique culture and diversity. Most importantly, to work on current comprehensive plans that address housing, wastewater and clean water.

What is the most critical issue Oak Bluffs is facing?                                                                            Management of its wastewater and clean water. Housing is an Island-wide problem that needs a regional approach and solution.

What efforts need to be made to address this issue?
The town is moving forward in the right direction with the 2018 needs assessment for wastewater management followed by the implementation of the first phase of the $26 million initiative to update our current plant operations. It is imperative that the town continue in a timely manner to expand facilities in order to avoid possible failures during our peak summer season and to meet the needs of the rapid growth in the demands on our facilities. Grants and the Commonwealth’s revolving fund will play major funding roles in our expansion plans. A reduction in nitrogen helps to improve our water quality and restore our ponds to their healthy status, which in turn supports our shellfish industry.

Why should residents vote for you over the other candidates?
I have been a resident of Oak Bluffs for more than two decades. During this time, I have been an active participant in our schools, athletics, government and nonprofit communities. I believe my academic and policy experiences in public health, education and social justice will serve our community well as I strive to make the best decisions for our town.

Mark Leonard — Ray Ewing

K. Mark Leonard

Occupation: Retired Army colonel, retired business consultant.

Previous or current town board service or other relevant roles: Chair of the affordable housing committee, zoning reform subcommittee, joint affordable housing committee, vice chair of Dukes County Regional Housing Authority.

What encouraged you to run for the select board?
Volunteering my time serving on the affordable housing committee and coordinating with multiple town committees, boards and the select board has allowed me to understand town and Island organization functions. I believe that my MBA and public policy administration Ph.D. education, 32 years of military and business experience and my existing Oak Bluffs committee work have given me a solid foundation in problem solving, financial knowledge, municipal governance and leadership to impact Oak Bluffs positively.

What is the most critical issue Oak Bluffs is facing?
The town has substantial infrastructure challenges such as wastewater expansion, harbor jetty extension and bulkhead upgrades, a new high school, town building repairs and affordable and workforce housing that impact us all. These critical issues have to account for protecting our watersheds, ponds and the impacts of climate change.

What efforts need to be made to address that issue?
The town has to create a coordinated long-term capital improvement plan involving boards, committees and departments. The strategy must identify the project scope, prioritize the need and find the best funding method, limiting a burdensome impact on real estate and personal property taxes. Having a plan allows the town to work with our state legislators for funding and apply for state and federal grants to contribute to these infrastructure costs, limiting debt.

Why should residents vote for you over the other candidates?
I have the most experience working with Oak Bluffs boards, committees and departments, with measurable results. While leading the affordable housing committee, we have created year-round housing for the first time in 10 years, with 76 housing units in development. I have the dedication and time to take on the challenges we all face in Oak Bluffs.