Bob Fynbo would unseat incumbent Margaret Serpa in Edgartown
Margaret E. Serpa is familiar to Edgartown voters as well as to graduates of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. For 34 years, until her retirement in June 2006, Ms. Serpa was a high school administrative assistant.
In that capacity, she was intimately involved with the high school budget process. She said that she has used her knowledge of school finances to keep a close watch on town money.
Ms. Serpa said she has always been involved in town affairs. She enjoys reading, knitting, yard work and her grandchildren in her spare time.
A member of a large, well known Edgartown family, Ms. Serpa has served three terms as a selectmen. As she seeks a fourth three-year term, she will face a challenger for the first time.
Bob Fynbo may be a newcomer to politics, but his Edgartown roots date back to the 1890's. A graduate of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, he built on his Army electronics training and in 1988 formed a software development company named BobCoPro, Inc. It was the first in a succession of companies that included The Computer Lab and VTXexhaust.com, a remanufacturing business for motorcycle exhausts.
His business success allowed him to pursue his passion for working with wood. He now builds commissioned pieces of furniture in his woodshop.
He is a longtime member of the Edgartown Fire Department and an Emergency Medical Technician. He is also active in volunteer work. Mr. Fynbo lives on Chappaquiddick with his wife, Felicia Cheney, director of the Edgartown Public Library, and two sons.
1. Why are you running for election (re-election), and why do you think you are the best candidate?
Ms. Serpa: The reason I am running for re-election is that I feel I can continue to contribute to the issues the town faces in regards to finances, budgeting, and monitoring the spending of taxpayer dollars. I have been asked by numerous individuals to continue in this position, and I have the time and interests of the town at heart. I am the best candidate because of my knowledge of municipal finances and strong fiscal management skills.
Mr. Fynbo: The real question should be why no one has challenged an incumbent in Edgartown for over a decade? It is intimidating to run against the good old boy network in Edgartown.
I am one of many potential candidates who could do a great job. I think outside of the box, have the time this job requires, and was "crazy" enough to volunteer to run. I have the skills needed for this job and the communication abilities to make a difference.
In meeting with and listening to the various town boards, department heads, employees, and the people of this town, one common concern has emerged. The selectmen are not listening to the very people who elected them.
2. What are some of your goals and how would you accomplish them?
Ms. Serpa: To continue the open communication we now have with town boards and committees and to work together and maintain a positive financial position. I want to continue to work on the issue of the pollution of Sengekontacket Pond and adopt regulations recommended by the shellfish committee. The town also needs to address the issue of GASB45 and how the town plans to fund for the retiree's benefits obligations as required by the government. I want to continue to work with the committee for the use of the old Edgartown School to find a suitable use of the building. All of these goals can be accomplished by open discussion among all involved to formulate a plan to move forward in a positive manner.
Mr. Fynbo: I have many goals, some I can do on my own, and some that will require help from the community. My first goal is to work on communications between the selectmen's office and the boards, department heads, employees, and people of the town.
I will visit each town department and each board's meetings on a regular basis. I will make use of the people who volunteer their time to our town, and most importantly, listen to their findings. Because there is no current mechanism for people to comfortably bring forth issues, I will make myself available at a regular time to listen to the people in an informal and comfortable setting, such as the town hall or the public library.
Without a dramatic change in the communication process, government cannot effectively represent the voters. I have many more goals regarding technology, vision, affordable housing, the environment, finances, transportation, and the revitalization of downtown, which are covered in depth at www.bobfynbo.com.
3. Edgartown continues to face increasing costs. Please outline some of your solutions to control costs and restrain the tax burden placed on property owners.
Ms. Serpa: The board of selectmen and the financial advisory committee are planning to meet on a monthly basis to stay on top of the many and varied financial issues facing all towns. We are going to look at service contracts, bulk purchasing, and vehicle purchase and/or rotation. Edgartown has no large taxpayer projects for the near future, and we do not anticipate having to borrow for the next few years, giving us an opportunity to pay down our present debt. We will continue to add to the Stabilization Fund and keep our free cash at the recommended level of 5 to10 percent of our general operating budget. All of this will benefit the property owners in town.
Mr. Fynbo: The town is already working to restrain the tax burden on the property owners. The question for Edgartown voters is whether they are getting the services they have requested. Are we funding the school so our children can work at grade level and pass the MCAS? Have our leaders listened to what is important to us? With energy and insurance costs soaring and the constraints imposed by Proposition 2.5, town services have suffered. Just look to the deteriorating state of our town's buildings. While no one wants to increase taxes, neither do they want to degrade vital town services. I want to be the voice of the voters, working to ensure the most efficient and effective use of Edgartown's tax dollars.