It's Ron DiOrio in Oak Bluffs
Wins special election for OB selectman
Ron DiOrio, a relative newcomer to Oak Bluffs politics, beat three other candidates to win a seat on the five-member board of selectmen in a special election on Tuesday.
Mr. DiOrio (485) was the top vote-getter in a field that included Herbert A. Combra Jr. (419), David Morris (119), and Kenneth J. DeBettencourt (88).
A total of 1,124 voters went to the polls, or 35 percent of the total electorate of 3,202 registered voters.
Mr. DiOrio now joins Kerry Scott, Roger Wey, Gregory Coogan, and Duncan Ross on the board of selectmen.
Oak Bluffs voters went to the polls Tuesday, where the final nod went to newcomer Ron DiOrio. Photo by Ralph Stewart
A vacancy on the five-member board was created when seasoned selectman Michael Dutton left in May and was subsequently hired as town administrator last month. Mr. DiOrio will finish Mr. Dutton's term, which expires in April 2008.
Mr. DiOrio, co-owner of Craftworks in Oak Bluffs and president of Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard, said he ran a strong campaign in what was his second run for a seat on the board of selectmen. His strategies included placing lawn signs in visible locations, newspaper advertising, and meeting as many voters as possible.
"I think the message was clear throughout the campaign that I am a firm believer in doing both short-range and long-range planning," Mr. DiOrio said yesterday. "And I think that resonated with the voters."
A full-time Island resident since 1994, and a property owner since the 1970s, Mr. DiOrio was the only candidate not born and raised in Oak Bluffs. He was also the only candidate who had no previous elected experience in Oak Bluffs.
But Mr. DiOrio did have significant help. His campaign had the support of long-time Oak Bluffs political veterans that included selectman Kerry Scott and former selectmen Linda Marinelli, who were able to draw on an existing base of support.
"When you run the first time people get to know you. When you run the second time there's a sense of your familiar face and familiar name," he said. "In a sense it's a continuation of what I started, and not just jumping in for the sake of jumping in."
In a pre-election interview with The Times last week, Mr. DiOrio stressed the need for planning. He said it is imperative for the town to have a current 5-year plan concerning town conservation, economic development, and other pressing issues.
He said better planning would also alleviate some of the tensions that have divided the board in the past.
In the aftermath of his election victory Mr. DiOrio said he is a good listener and has the ability to make sound judgments.
"I think it's healthy to discuss things, and that's the beauty of American politics, people have different points of view," he said. "My father used to always say, when two people agree all the time, one is not needed in the conversation."
In his comments, Mr. DiOrio said he thinks he will be able to lessen tensions on the board of selectmen.
The election results were a bitter pill to swallow for David Morris, who told The Times he considered it an embarrassing defeat. Mr. Morris was particularly upset that Mr. DiOrio managed to be the top vote getter among three native sons.
He said Mr. DiOrio's victory was in reality a victory for a divisive political faction that included Kerry Scott, Linda Marinelli and Gerry DeBettencourt. He said the likely result would be further political battles.
"This will just make it worse," he said. "There will be even more in-fighting on the board, and it's just too negative for me. I hoped I could bring a positive look to the board."
After his third unsuccessful run for the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen, Mr. Morris said this campaign was particularly painful. He said that in keeping with his campaign promise he would resign from the school committee, where he has served for the last two and a half years, and remove himself from the Oak Bluffs political scene.
"I knew it would be close, but this is embarrassing," Mr. Morris said. "I'm not going to try to help the town if they're not going to work with me."
The Times was unable to reach Mr. Combra, and Mr. DeBettencourt chose not to comment on the results.
With the election over, Duncan Ross, chairman of the board, said he is looking forward to moving forward with a five-member board and concentrating on the work of leading the town. Mr. Ross said he hopes Mr. DiOrio can bring new, fresh ideas to the board of selectmen.
"I don't know the man all that well, and I'm just looking forward to getting to know him better," Mr. Ross said yesterday. "It's easier to get a majority with a five-member board than with four members. I'm glad this election is behind us and we can move on."
The next selectman's meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 22.