Two vie for Tisbury’s board of health seat

Two vie for Tisbury’s board of health seat

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On Tuesday, April 27, Tisbury voters will be asked to choose between incumbent Kenneth Garde and challenger Michael Loberg for a seat on the board of health (BOH). The winner will join Herbert Custer and James Pringle on the three-member board.

The board of health meets weekly and is responsible for disease prevention and control and promoting a healthy community, according to the town’s website. It also serves as the local arm of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Protection. In keeping with a town policy, BOH members receive a $200 annual stipend.

Last year, Tisbury’s BOH collaborated in Island-wide vaccination efforts against seasonal and H1N1 (swine) flu. The BOH, through its health inspectors, inspects and regulates more than 60 food service establishments, including caterers. The board also monitors water quality in town waters and carries out a town-wide septage management plan.

The BOH fiscal year 2011 operating budget is $238,440, of which salaries account for $172,140. Tom Pachico, a former Tisbury selectman and owner of a private septic inspection business, is the town health inspector. The assistant health inspector is Maura Valley, and administrative secretary is Catherine Fuller.

Mr. Garde, current chairman, has served on the BOH for 21 years. He is also the board’s representative on the sewer flow advisory board. Mr. Garde holds state inspector licenses for septic and lead inspections, a current food handler’s permit, and a certified pool handler’s license.

Mr. Garde has owned a property management company for 21 years and is a former restaurant owner and manager. In addition to serving on the BOH, Mr. Garde has served on a number of town boards and committees and was chairman of the former wastewater planning committee.

Mr. Garde has volunteered as a Little League baseball and youth basketball coach for many years, and served as a deacon and member of the board of elders for Faith Community Church.

Mr. Loberg recently retired as a scientist with 12 years of drug development experience and 21 years of senior management experience. He began coming to Tisbury annually in the 1960s. He and his wife Melinda have lived in Tisbury full-time since 1997.

During his career, Mr. Loberg served as chief executive officer of Inotek Pharmaceuticals and NitroMed, following a number of senior management positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb. He also served as an associate professor of medicine and pharmacy at the University of Maryland.

He volunteers on the board of Vineyard Village at Home and assists Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard as a consultant. Mr. Loberg also is active in the NAACP of Martha’s Vineyard and Boston.

The Times recently emailed Mr. Garde and Mr. Loberg each specific questions. Their responses follow:

Mr. Garde, you have been cited repeatedly by town officials for violating animal control regulations. Why should voters have confidence that you will fairly supervise the enforcement of the town’s health regulations?

Mr. Garde: My experience over the years has allowed me to help all people who come to our board. That is what we serve on local boards for, to know the rules and regulations and help all who come to achieve their individual goals within the confines of the law. I am committed to always making fair and impartial decisions with regard to any matter that comes before us.

I know that there have been recent articles in both local papers about my family’s pets. I do not own all the animals in question, but as head of my family, I accept full responsibility. That has never affected any decisions that I made. I put my trust in God. He is responsible for all things, even this election.

Mr. Loberg, what experience qualifies you to serve on the board of health and what changes if any would you seek?

Mr. Loberg: I have the professional experience necessary to serve on the board of health, and now in retirement I believe I have the time as well. My background includes over 40 years in healthcare where I have worked, taught, managed and done research in both hospital and biotech settings.

I have specific experience in managing the spread of highly infectious and often lethal diseases. Additionally, I have worked and learned sanitation alongside my father and now my sister, who collectively have run a family plumbing business for over 50 years.

I also serve on several biotech and philanthropic boards and appreciate the role and importance of good governance. If elected, I would seek to bring added skills to the board of health’s traditions of protecting and preserving our town, our Island and Islanders.

Specifically, I would like to bring added attention to tick-borne illnesses, which prey increasingly upon us, to the point where their prevalence and impact are unacceptable. I would like to participate in finding solutions to improve the overall health of Vineyarders.

And from the perspective of environmental protection, we are faced with the challenge of too much nitrogen in the Lagoon Pond and Tashmoo — both priceless Island resources. As a member of the board of health, I would endeavor to be open minded and transparent in evaluating a range of solutions.

Reaching solutions on complex matters such as these is typically a collective decision, involving numerous constituencies and Island boards, and is dependent on the quality of the various board interactions. I would like to use my voice to bring good governance and civility to what I believe can be an enriching process of problem-solving for our town.