Date set for Oak Bluffs special election
Oak Bluffs selectmen voted to hold a special election on Tuesday, August 8 to fill the seat left vacant following the resignation of Michael Dutton on May 22. The five-member board of selectmen will operate with only four members for nearly ten weeks, further complicating Oak Bluff's volatile political landscape. Selectman Kerry Scott, for one, does not anticipate any problems with the board of selectmen being one member short for the next two months. "If people look back on our votes they will see we are usually on the same page for a lot of things," she said yesterday. The recent decision to bypass Ms. Scott in favor of Duncan Ross as chairman of the selectmen and the resignation of Casey Sharpe as town administrator have led to a tumultuous spring season in Oak Bluffs.
Also at the Tuesday night meeting, the selectmen appointed a five-member screening committee to select finalists for the town administrator position. Each selectman nominated someone to join Ms. Sharpe on the committee. Ms. Sharpe resigned as town administrator on May 9, but she will stay in the position until July 15.
Applications for the position are due June 15. Mr. Dutton has said that he is considering applying for the job of town administrator.
Ms. Sharpe said she is in favor of choosing a local person to take her position, and that four qualified Island residents have approached her about the job.
"This is the time of year when lots of really talented and qualified people look around and say, boy I'd like to live on an Island," Ms. Sharp said. "And then reality sets in."
Ms. Scott urged her fellow selectmen to consider a search committee at last week's meeting, in order to be careful about showing favoritism. "I'm in favor of a search committee," selectman Roger Wey said Tuesday. "I think we should take our time and find the best person for the job. I don't think we should rush the process."
With a search committee in place, the selection process may take extra time, and an interim administrator may be needed. "I'm uncomfortable with an interim," said selectman Gregory Coogan. "I don't think that's any way to run a company. People are going to say what they're going to say. We're going to be the ones taking the heat or the congratulations. That's what our job is."
Mr. Ross appointed Ken Walker to the committee, and Ms. Scott chose Linda Marinelli, a former selectman and member of the board of health.
Mrs. Marinelli's long record in public office is studded with battles with her fellow town officials. In a telephone conversation yesterday, Ms. Scott downplayed the notion that Mrs. Marinelli might not mesh well with the other members of the board.
"I consider her to be harshly judged and extremely fair," Ms. Scott said. "What we need is somebody who is known to be fair so that when they make recommendations we know there will be no influence."
Mr. Wey nominated Paul Strauss, a Dukes County Commissioner, and Mr. Coogan has not yet submitted his choice. All nominees have accepted the position.