Election 2008 : County contest has an electoral quirk
The election for Dukes County commissioner seems at first glance like no contest. There are three open seats on the Dukes County Commission and three well-known local officials on the ballot.
But a provision of the county charter could allow one of two candidates from West Tisbury to garner thousands of votes yet lose the election to a write-in candidate with a relative handful of votes.
That is because while county commissioners are elected at-large, in order to prevent any one town from holding a disproportionate influence on the commission, the county charter stipulates that no more than two people from any one town may serve on the commission.
The three names on the November ballot are incumbents Lenny Jason Jr. of Chilmark, John Alley of West Tisbury, and Linda Sibley also of West Tisbury. Commission chairman Leslie Leland, who lives in West Tisbury, is not up for re-election and will remain in office, so Mr. Alley and Ms. Sibley cannot both serve on the county commission.
Of those two, the one who receives fewer votes "shall not be declared elected," according to the county charter.
The charter also says the person "receiving the next highest number of votes for the office, and residing in another town, shall be declared elected." That leaves the door wide open for a write-in candidate who lives in a town other than West Tisbury.
Hoping to step through that door is Thomas Hallahan, of Oak Bluffs. He has actively campaigned as write-in candidate. Dan Flynn, also of Oak Bluffs, is a write-in candidate, but has not actively campaigned for the seat.
The three names on the ballot are familiar Island political figures.
Mr. Alley has served on the county commission for 25 years. He is a self-appointed member of the airport commission and West Tisbury cemetery superintendent.
Mr. Jason has served on the commission since 1995. He is the Edgartown and Chilmark building inspector.
Linda Sibley is a former county commissioner. She owns Vineyard Electronics, a local Radio Shack dealer in Vineyard Haven.
Mr. Hallahan is a healthcare and public policy consultant for state government and professional organizations. He is a member of the Oak Bluffs school advisory council.
Dan Flynn is a former county commissioner who served on the charter study commission. He is a retired State Police officer and now works as a court officer.