Jamie Douglas in Tisbury
Tisbury voters have an opportunity to pass a share of town leadership to a young person with practical energy, a determination to make careful changes, and a sound sense of the town's economy and what it needs to thrive. He and others like him will be Tisbury's leaders in the years ahead. They will guide the community through the changes that will certainly come.
Jamie Douglas has run unsuccessfully for the selectman's job before, but now he offers voters a record of experience, both in municipal affairs and in his extensive business life.
He is the director of retail operations for The Black Dog, his family's business. He oversees 15 stores, including those in all of the Island towns and others in Chatham, Provincetown, Falmouth, and Newport, R.I., and soon, Nantucket. He serves on Tisbury's planning board, the emergency services facility committee, the sewage flow review board, and the revenue enhancement committee.
Mr. Douglas addresses the issues facing Tisbury with a refreshing directness and point of view. His suggestions for change reflect an accurate assessment of problems, lost opportunities, and lingering inefficiencies. For instance, he promises to "use the position of town administrator to work effectively for the board of selectman and other town boards." The administrator's role is now so thoroughly circumscribed by the selectmen's turgid management style that useful efficiencies and good advice from the town's well-trained and energetic incumbent professional manager is overlooked or lost.
And, Mr. Douglas points to the clumsy end to the police chief's tenure, the long delay in moving to find a successor, plus the similarly messy end to the tenure of the former town administrator as the "results of ineffective leadership and management, which in turn cost the town money." He's right.
Mr. Douglas recognizes that buried in the town management structure are opportunities for leadership and efficiency. "I would insist on a more effective town cabinet meeting," he told The Times this week. "The meetings that I have attended have been mostly poorly attended and ineffective at ensuring proper exchanges of information and ideas between town boards...further resulting in frustration and lack of progress. I would insist that meetings be run in a more businesslike fashion: following the agenda, with the use of timelines, deliverables and accountability." For a municipality that spends nearly $20 million a year, these are perfectly reasonable ambitions.
Mr. Douglas is staunchly pro-business, though none of the candidates can claim to have been raised on this Island with a sharper focus on the meaningful history and traditions of the Vineyard, and particularly Tisbury, and very particularly Vineyard Haven's waterfront. The candidate is clear on his goals. Asked if he favors allowing beer and wine sales by businesses such as those owned and operated by his family, he doesn't evade the question. He says yes: "I am in support of allowing restaurants to sell wine and beer. This will effectively work to help put Vineyard Haven businesses on a more level playing field with Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. Also, this will have an incremental trickle down effect on other town businesses such as the movie theatre and other merchants. Many tax dollars and jobs have been lost, and it is time to do all we can to encourage businesses to relocate or stay in Tisbury. This extra traffic will have the effect of encouraging business people and the town to begin to see the value in beautifying the town. The character of the town may then be bolstered with increased pedestrian access and a better atmosphere." He is also a forthright supporter of important elements of the town planning board's new downtown plan, which he participated in drafting.
All together, Mr. Douglas offers voters an opportunity to add to Tisbury town government a younger, more results-minded, more vigorous, and future-oriented perspective. It's an opportunity of which voters ought to take advantage.