Five vie for the FinCom in West Tisbury
There are two finance committee (FinCom) positions on the April 11 ballot in West Tisbury this year. Jonathan Klaren, Richard Knabel, and Daniel Pace will contend for a three-year term in the regular rotation. Peter Costas, whose term is ending, has decided not to run for re-election. The resignation of James Powell in February has opened a second spot, and Brian Abbott will oppose Brian Athearn for that one.
Candidates for a three-year term
Jonathan Klaren has lived on Martha's Vineyard since 1990 and in West Tisbury since 1995. He grew up in Dartmouth, graduated from Tabor Academy, and earned a degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He is married and has a five-year-old daughter. A ten-year veteran of the Chilmark police force, he has been a sergeant for two years. As a police officer, he feels that he has a good understanding of how finance committees work.
Mr. Klaren says that he is satisfied with the way the FinCom has been operating and would not be running for FinCom if Peter Costas had not decided to step down. "I don't have an agenda, political, personal, or otherwise," he told The Times. "I think it's unrealistic to think that a new member is going to come in and shake up the world." But he does present himself as a person who would work hard, perhaps doing research, and learn the job as he goes along.
Richard Knabel is a retired college professor who taught physical sciences at the State University of New York and West Chester Community College. Having vacationed on the Vineyard since 1973, he moved to West Tisbury year-round in 1999 to a house he had been building since 1997. On his web site (knabel.vineyard.net) he lists 12 years as the board president of a condominium association with a million-dollar annual operating budget; 5 years as board president of Riverkeeper, a non-profit environmental organization with a $3-million-a-year budget; and 18 years as a trustee of the Hudson River Improvement Fund, which administers a perpetual fund derived from fines, penalties, and judgments against polluters. All of these experiences, he feels, will serve him well in analyzing the West Tisbury town budgets.
Mr. Knabel feels that the present FinCom should be congratulated for reining in the town budget this year. However he cautions, "One year does not make a trend."
Daniel Pace has lived full-time in West Tisbury for about a year and a half, after commuting from Cambridge since 2001, when his wife, Elaine, moved to the Island to be principal of the West Tisbury School. Mr. Pace holds a BS in mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh, an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a PhD in pharmacology from Georgetown. During his career, which spanned about 20 years, he managed clinical trials for drug companies, analyzing budgets and outcomes. Mr. Pace feels that this experience, which involved long-term planning, will be an asset to the FinCom.
Mr. Pace is a member of the Deep Bottom homeowners' association and cites years of experience as the president of a large homeowners association in New Jersey, where he says he learned to resolve conflicts. "Conflicts should be resolved in a professional and collegial way," he says. "The idea is to get things resolved in a way that no one gets angry."
Candidates for a two-year term
Brian Abbott has lived on Martha's Vineyard all his life and numbers long-standing Vineyard families among his ancestors: Looks, Luces, Cottles, and others. He stresses that he has "a vested interest in the town" and has no plans to leave. A graduate of MVRHS, he has for 25 years owned and operated a land-clearing and landscaping business. Before that, he was a commercial fisherman. At this point in his life, at 57, he feels he has some time to give to the town.
Mr. Abbott says that he is sincerely interested in the work of the FinCom and is favorably impressed by what the FinCom has tried to do in the past three years, being more proactive and trying to guide the town. He hopes to continue that work, and he hopes that by being on the FinCom, his insistence can help to make the work of the selectmen less secretive and more fully disclosed. "I need to know that the [selectmen's] game of omissions isn't as blatant as it has been recently," he says.
Brian Athearn was born on Martha's Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS. After a hitch in the Air Force working with nuclear missiles, he earned a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He now runs a computer consulting company, MV Tech, Inc. He feels that he represents a demographic underrepresented in town leadership, young families with children.
Mr. Athearn says that he's in West Tisbury for the long haul. "I love this town, and I'd do anything for it." Hearing others complaining, he decided to do something more than complain. "My hat's off to the present FinCom," he says, and adds that he would like to help them continue to control spending. As a businessman involved in growing his own business, Mr. Athearn comments, "To change and grow simultaneously is a hard thing to get a handle on. West Tisbury is not a small town anymore; it's a multimillion-dollar business."