Tisbury voting is about water, public works
Tisbury voters head to the polls for the annual town election from noon to 8 pm on Tuesday, April 28, at the American Legion Hall opposite the Tisbury School. Although several races are uncontested, competition remains for candidates vying for one water commissioner and two public works commissioner seats.
In the race for one three-year term as a water commissioner, Roland M. Miller is challenging incumbent Ralph M. Packer Jr., one of three water commissioners who currently oversee Tisbury Water Works (TWW), the town's water system.
Established under a charter in 1905, TWW has operated as an independent entity. At a special town meeting held April 7, however, voters approved incorporating TWW as a town department effective June 30 and establishing a water enterprise fund for its operation starting July 1. The water commissioners will continue to set water rates, hire and fire employees, and run the water system's day-to-day operations.
Mr. Packer, the owner of R.M. Packer Company and Tisbury Towing, has served as a water commissioner for 21 years, since he was first elected in 1988. Currently a member of the town's dredge committee, over the years Mr. Packer also has served as a volunteer firefighter and on the town's finance and advisory committee (FinCom), Tisbury Harbor Committee, Lake Street dock committee, and the committee to create a waterfront overlay district.
Although Mr. Miller would be new to the job of water commissioner if elected, he is well acquainted with TWW through his work as an at-large member appointed to the water department charter study committee (CRC) created in November 2007 as a cooperative effort between the Tisbury selectmen and the TWW water commissioners.
Mr. Miller and four other committee members spent almost a year reviewing a number of policy and legal documents pertaining to TWW and interviewing numerous local and state water system employees. Agreements reached between the selectmen and water commissioners about restructuring TWW were based the committee's recommendations.
The experience of working on the CRC piqued Mr. Miller's interest in serving as a water commissioner. He joined the committee at its start-up only a month after moving to the Vineyard with his wife Judith in October 2007. A retired educator, he worked as a teacher, junior high school and high school principal before serving as superintendent of schools in Lennox, Mass., from 1973 to 2000.