Now is the time for Martha’s Vineyard residents considering a run for elected office to get busy. Although the first round of local elections is still two months away, there is still time to gather the necessary signatures to appear on town ballots.
Seats on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and the Dukes County Commission will be up for grabs in the November 6 election, along with state and federal offices.
Why run for office? What does it require? “We need more people with different points of view about what’s happening in the towns,” said Judy Crawford, past president of the League of Women Voters. “It’s important to bring in new ideas. It takes people with a sense of civic responsibility.”
Right to run
Information on how to run for elected office is available in town clerks’ offices and the office of secretary of state William Galvin. In general, a local or state office seeker must be at least 18 years old and a registered voter in the locality he or she is seeking office.
A run for office begins with nomination papers signed by registered voters. The secretary of state suggests that more signatures be gathered than required to account for illegible names, incorrect signatures, and people who are not registered voters.
A total of 25 signatures is needed to run for county offices. These include seats on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the county commission, and the registrar of deeds.
Candidates for town office, including a seat on the board of selectmen, must gather 20 signatures. Marion Mudge, Tisbury town clerk, advises candidates to get 25 to 30 signatures.
Last-minute candidates always have the option of a write-in campaign.
MVC, county seats
Nomination papers for state and county offices became available as of Tuesday, Feb. 7. Secretary Galvin’s office said the the primary election is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 6 and the state election is November 6.
Nomination papers for district and county offices must be submitted to local election officials for certification of names no later than Tuesday, May 1.
The only county department office on the ballot is for Registrar of Deeds. Diane Powers said she plans to run for a fourth six-year term.
All seven members of the Dukes County Commission will be up for re-election in November. The term is two years.
Nine seats on the 21-member Martha’s Vineyard Commission will be on the ballot. MVC members are chosen in an at-large, Islandwide vote every two years.
Residents of one town may vote for candidates from other towns, but at least one commissioner, and no more than two, must be elected from each town.
On an annual basis, selectmen in each town appoint one commissioner, the County Commission appoints one, and the governor appoints five commissioners, one of whom may vote.
The six Island towns follow up annual town meetings with town elections. Generally speaking, the office of selectman draws the most attention. However, town ballots also feature races — contested and not — for seats on a variety of important decision-making boards that include the board of assessors, planning board, finance committee, school committee, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, and zoning board of appeals.
Aquinnah’s town meeting is scheduled for May 8. The town election will follow on May 9.
The deadline to file nomination papers is April 4. The deadline to register to vote in the town election is April 18.
Selectman Jim Newman is up for re-election.
Chilmark voters gather for town meeting on Monday, April 23, and go to the polls on April 25.
The deadline to obtain nomination papers is March 5. Nomination papers must be submitted no later than March 7. The deadline to register to vote is April 3.
Selectman Frank Fenner is up for re-election.
Edgartown voters meet on Tuesday, April 10, at the Old Whaling Church. The annual town election is April 12.
The last day to obtain nomination papers is February 21. The filing deadline is February 23. The last day to register to vote to in the town election is March 21.
Selectmen Arthur Smadbeck is up for re-election.
Oak Bluffs will hold its annual town meeting at Tuesday, April 10. The town election is April 12.
The last day to obtain nomination papers is February 21. The deadline to file is February 23. The last day to register to vote is March 21.
Selectmen Gregory Coogan and Kathleen Burton are up for re-election.
West Tisbury voters meet on April 10. The town election is April 12. The deadline to submit nomination papers is February 23. February 23 is also the deadline for picking up the papers.
Selectman Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter is up for re-election.
Tisbury will hold its annual town meeting on April 10. The town election is April 24.
Nomination papers were available January 3. The deadline to submit papers is March 6. The last day to register to vote for the annual town meeting and annual election is March 21.
Selectman Geoghan Coogan is up for re-election.
To qualify to vote in Massachusetts you must be a U.S. citizen, and a resident of the state and the town in which you are registering to vote.
In order to vote you must be registered 20 days before all primaries and elections, and/or 10 days before a special town meeting.
Consult the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Election Division website for more detailed information about state and county elections sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm.