On Thursday, Sept. 8, Islanders will join voters across Massachusetts and go to the polls in primary elections that will set the stage for the general election in November. Voter disenchantment with national, state, or local politics is no excuse for any citizen to ignore his or her right and responsibility to cast an informed vote.
Four years ago, fewer than 20 percent of the Island electorate participated in the primary election. That is a dismal statistic that reflects poorly on the citizens of Martha’s Vineyard and the Island’s self-image of an engaged community.
The oft-repeated quote attributed to former House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill that “All politics is local” characterizes this election. This fall, voters will be asked to pick the successors for four well-known, reliable, experienced public servants. In each case, the offices are important and have a direct bearing on Island life, from the State House to the Dukes County courthouse.
Dan Wolf of Harwich, founder of Cape Air, will step down after three terms in the Senate.
Elected in 2008, Representative Tim Madden of Nantucket was the first Islands resident to be elected to the state legislature since Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket lost their seats in redistricting almost 40 years ago. He leaves after eight years in office on Beacon Hill during which he was always responsive to Vineyard concerns.
Dianne Powers, Dukes County Register of Deeds, will retire with two years remaining in her six-year term after 22 years in office.
Dukes County Sheriff Michael McCormack will retire after 18 years as sheriff.
In each case, voters will be asked to replace individuals whose years of experience and deep understanding of their roles and responsibilities have benefited the Island.
Real estate is a major pillar of the year-round and seasonal economy. A steady hand at the Registry of Deeds, the repository of vital records, is needed.
Public safety is of vital interest to Islanders, who generally enjoy the benefits of a safe community. The sheriff oversees the Dukes County jail and the house of correction, and has a direct say on when off-Island prisoners may be housed at the Island facility, a decision with possible consequences for all Islanders.
It is time to choose wisely, but above all, it is time to vote.
VTA is the people mover
This week we provide a report card of sorts on the Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA).
Janet Hefler reports that in July, the VTA transported 313,181 passengers across 14 bus routes Island-wide. That is a remarkable achievement on an Island that at times in August seemed awash in cars.
Ms. Hefler reports that ridership in fiscal year 2016 hit 1,364,768, an increase of about 6 percent over the previous year.
First approved in 1980, the VTA has grown from humble beginnings to fulfill an important and vital role in the Island’s transportation network. As the summer traffic volume, which balloons to bursting in August, begins to deflate, we may contemplate how many more vehicles might have been on Island roadways but for the VTA.
Looking ahead, support for the VTA, and convenient fast-ferry passenger service from mainland ports, provide practical strategies for limiting summer vehicle traffic. If visitors can travel to and around the Island conveniently, they may be more inclined to leave their cars on the mainland.