Jeff Kristal elected; beer/wine tie
Proving that "every vote counts," Tisbury voters reached a stalemate Tuesday: 690 for and 690 against, on the long fermenting question of whether to allow the sale of beer and wine with meals in local restaurants.
The tie means the question failed, because a majority, 50 percent of the votes cast, plus one, was not achieved. However, a requested recount is in the works. If a recount confirms the tie, the question is indeed defeated. One more yes or no vote would decide the question for either supporters or opponents.
Hanging in the balance are 21 ballots read by the counting machine as "blanks." As Tisbury town clerk Marion Mudge explained yesterday, if someone marked a ballot in a manner the optical scanner that counts votes could not read, the result would be recorded as a "blank."
"There is a possibility that one of the 21 blank votes didn't get counted," Ms. Mudge said. "Had one of those ballots counted, we would have a winning side."
Under state law, any registered voter in the town may request a recount within 10 days, following an election. By yesterday afternoon, Laura Barbera, co-owner of Nicky's Italian Café, had submitted to Ms. Mudge a recount petition with more than the 10 signatures required for certification.
Photos by Susan Safford
Before the 10 days are up on April 25, however, there may be more than one recount involved. In the selectman's race, challenger Jeff Kristal defeated incumbent Tom Pachico by 14 votes, 679 to 665. Yesterday, Mr. Pachico said he may request a recount.
Ms. Mudge said the board of registrars will meet next Wednesday to discuss the recount and decide on a date. "I'm hoping at that time we will know whether or not Mr. Pachico is going to request a recount," Ms. Mudge said, since it would be practical to do the selectman's contest and the beer and wine question at the same time.
Once a recount is scheduled, Ms. Mudge has to provide three days' written notice of the time and date to both the proponents and opponents of the beer and wine question. Ms. Mudge assured voters that the ballots are locked in a secure place, where they will remain until the recount.
Ms. Mudge said she expects to hire six counters for the recount. They will work in pairs, with one reading the ballot while the other keeps a count. In the case of the beer and wine question, one representative from each side of the issue will observe each pair counting ballots. The observers may object to the counters' decisions. The recount also will be open to the public.
If there is a question of interpretation about how a ballot is marked, it goes to the board of registrars, Ms. Mudge explained. After the board decides, either side can contest the decision. The ballot in question is put aside. At the end of a recount, Ms. Mudge said there is no recourse other than going to court over contested ballots.
Rumors were flying around town yesterday about possible changes in the beer and wine vote, including some questions about uncounted ballots that had been discovered. Ms. Mudge said those could be traced to an incident that happened Tuesday afternoon at the polls at the American Legion Hall. She inadvertently placed a stack of pre-marked ballots on top of a check-in table. The test decks, as they are called, had been used to check the accuracy of the Automark, a machine specially made for handicapped voters, and the ballot-scanning machine.
Ms. Mudge said she was momentarily distracted before she put the test decks away. Then a voter informed her he had received a ballot that was already marked up. Realizing what happened, she said she would get him a new one. He told her it was already marked up the way he wanted to vote, so he had placed it in the scanner.
Ms. Mudge said the test ballots were put away and she checked with voters in the immediate area to make sure no one had a marked ballot.
"The rumor has apparently turned into a report that there were all these voted ballots that were found," Ms. Mudge said. That was not the case, she added, since the voter check-off list and ballot count added up at the end of the night.
Yesterday, discussion about the tied vote on the beer and wine question brought mixed reactions.
"I'm disappointed - I hope when the recount happens, we prevail," said Peter Cronig, chairman of the Citizens to Repeal Prohibition committee. "I think people did a wonderful job in explaining everything. I thought we got our points across, but I guess we reached about half the town, since 690 people agreed with us and 690 didn't."
Gretchen Snyder, chairman of the Committee to Preserve Our Town, viewed the results as a victory for the "no" side. "I think we won - we look forward to the recount, and that will be that," she said.
In his first comment as a newly elected selectman, Jeff Kristal said he was excited and encouraged by his win. "I'm getting a lot of positive feedback from people already," he said.
Mr. Pachico summed up his loss, after nine years as a selectman, with his trademark philosophy, "It is what it is. I want to thank all my supporters over the years - thanks for showing up."
In other contested races, Rebecca Cass (702 votes) defeated John L. Johnson (258) for a three-year position on Tisbury's school board.
Incumbent David J. Ferraguzzi (824 votes) and Kenneth C. Garde (568) were elected to two three-year terms as public works commissioners. Larry J. Gomez received 522 votes.
Although no candidates applied for four slots on the finance and advisory committee, Mary Ellen Larsen, Jynell Kristal, Larry Gomez, and Peter Duart were elected by write-in votes.
Other races were uncontested.
Marilyn Wortman, Sandra Johnson-Pratt, and Sharon Anne Knipmeyer were elected to three-year seats as library trustees and Jo B. Weinberg to a one-year term.
Deborah Medders was reelected town moderator and Marion Mudge town clerk. Thomas Robinson was reelected to the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank Commission for a three-year term.
Others reelected included Roy Cutrer Jr. as assessor, Herbert Custer to the board of health, David Schwab as a water commissioner, and Henry Stephenson to the planning board for a five-year term.
Voters also approved improvements to Memorial Park by a vote of 814-485. They also voted 893-389 to approve a non-binding resolution calling on their Congressional representatives to vote against additional Iraq-occupation funds and to approve only those funds necessary for the safe and rapid withdrawal of troops.
A total of 1,401 of the town's 2,717 registered voters went to the polls, Ms. Mudge said.