Dukes County Commissioner
County government emerges in several ways as the central issue in this 2006 election. We have grown weary of chronicling the sorry record of county government over the last decade. If there has been a foolish, expensive, self-aggrandizing choice to be made, county government has rushed to embrace it. This page has pronounced itself more than ready to see the blemish of county government wiped from the Vineyard landscape. But, before that can happen, indeed whether it will happen, depends on decisions by Island voters on Tuesday.
To begin with, county government is here to stay at least for another two years or so; therefore voters must decide who they want to fill four seats on the seven-member commission. Three of the seven incumbent Dukes County commissioners have presented themselves for reelection. None of them - and indeed none of the other three, whose terms, regrettably, have not yet ended - deserves reelection. All three are responsible for the county commissioner follies of the last few years - for the wasted time, the wasted money, the misrepresentations, the posturing, and for heedlessly squandering the regard and trust of voters for county government. By itself, the commissioners' power struggle for control of county airport revenues is reason to scrap these three. Their decisions led to lawsuits and countersuits that have now cost county taxpayers hundreds of thousands of irretrievable dollars. But the list of ego-driven, clumsy, and expansionist cock-ups goes on almost without end.
For their own good, voters need to seat new, sensible people on the county commission. We unreservedly endorse a change and urge you to vote for Peter Hefler, Jesse Law 3rd, Tristan Israel, and Carlene Gatting. Each one offers county voters and taxpayers a chance to see county government work, in its limited current role, with restraint and orderly decision-making. (For the record, Peter Hefler is the husband of Janet Hefler, employed by The Times as a news reporter.)
And if the laughing stock that they have made of county government were not enough to get the three incumbents turned out, consider that if they are reelected they will have a place at the discussions of the Dukes County Charter Study Commission, which we urge voters to create on Tuesday with their Yes votes on Question 4. The study commission, which this page endorses heartily, deserves a membership of discerning, independent-minded Islanders, who accept without precondition the voters' charge to conduct an unrestricted review of county government's structure, performance, and the potential touted by county government's advocates, but never defined.
It must not be a membership heavily infiltrated with the bunglers who got us into this mess in the first place.
Question 4 asks voters to decide whether to establish a Dukes County Charter Study Commission to review the current charter that enabled county government as we know it. The study commission will have 18 months to recommend to Island voters whether to modify county government by amending or rewriting the charter, to leave it alone, or even to abolish it. No voter who has paid even slight attention to the fumbling county government that serves us so badly now can believe that leaving it in place unexamined is wise. A thorough, open-minded review is in order and overdue. Vote yes on Question 4.
County Charter Commission
In addition to voting Yes on Question 4, voters must choose 15 members of the charter study commission.
We recommend enthusiastically: Timothy Connelly, Mimi Davisson, Arthur E. Flathers, Daniel Flynn, Richard Knabel, Patricia Moore, Nora Nevin, James Newman, William O'Brien 3rd, Ted Stanley, and Woodrow W. Williams. Voters will find the names of these candidates on the ballot.
In addition, not on the ballot, but deserving your write-in vote, are: Tad Crawford, Jeff Kristal, Tom Rancich, and Holly Stephenson.
County Government Questions, in Summary
For County Commissioner, Peter Hefler, Jesse Law 3rd, Tristan Israel, and Carlene Gatting.
Vote YES to create the Dukes County Charter Study Committee. You'll find the question at the bottom of the reverse side of the state election ballot.
Then choose Timothy Connelly, Mimi Davisson, Arthur E. Flathers, Daniel Flynn, Richard Knabel, Patricia Moore, Nora Nevin, James Newman, William O'Brien 3rd, Ted Stanley, and Woodrow W. Williams to be on the Charter Study Committee. Their names are printed on the ballot. Write in the names of Tad Crawford, Jeff Kristal, Tom Rancich, and Holly Stephenson.
Martha's Vineyard Commission
The choices of Martha's Vineyard Commission members are few. For those Islanders who hanker for new names and restrained and sensible points of view on the regional land use planning and regulatory commission, the prospect is bleak. The few non-incumbents who've offered themselves, and the election rules that require at least one and no more than two from any one town, make reforming this plaguey organization difficult. Unenthusiastically, we recommend: James Athearn and Christina Brown, both Edgartown incumbents; Mimi Davisson, an incumbent commission member, and Dan Flynn, a former commission member, both of Oak Bluffs; Linda Sibley and Andrew Woodruff, incumbent commissioners from West Tisbury; Douglas Sederholm, incumbent from Chilmark; Peter Cabana, newcomer from Tisbury; and Kathy Newman, newcomer from Aquinnah.
Nothing to do but acquiesce
Incumbent Democrats Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, 10th District Congressman William Delahunt, Secretary of State William Galvin, Treasurer Tim Cahill, state Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci, Councillor Carole A. Fiona, state Sen. Robert O'Leary, state Rep. Eric Turkington, Register of Deeds Dianne Powers, and District Attorney Michael O'Keefe, a Republican, will almost certainly be reelected. No need to fret.
Martha Coakley, now the Suffolk County District Attorney, is a Democrat running for Massachusetts Attorney General. She is a shoo-in.
It is difficult to be enthusiastic about any of these familiar characters, as it is impossible to be optimistic about the chances of their little-known challengers, in those few cases where there are challengers. But, it is soothing to keep in mind that Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Delahunt, Mr. O'Leary, Mr. Turkington, and Mr. O'Keefe have been responsive to Vineyard needs and desires and attentive to our importuning. And, the Registry has never run better than it has under Ms. Powers's long reign.
Healey and Hillman
Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey is behind in the polls, perhaps terminally. She is deficient in charisma, perhaps hopelessly so. But, Ms. Healey is the better choice in the contest for governor of Massachusetts. She is a smart, honest, determined woman whose views are sensible and progressive. She will provide a strenuous counterbalance to the overwhelming Democrat presence in Massachusetts government.
Ms. Healey has promised to make every effort to roll back the state income tax rate to five percent, which voters demanded overwhelmingly by their referendum vote, a direction the Democrat controlled House and Senate have evaded for years. She is an advocate for victims, not criminals. She is a sturdy friend of education, but she will demand measurable performance in exchange for state and local tax dollars. She knows that businesses, and increasingly moderate income residents, find Massachusetts hostile to their interests and the financial well-being. She knows that businesses, not state government, create jobs, if they are encouraged and permitted to put down roots and grow. She has presented voters a detailed, down-to-earth, 50-point platform that defines her as a candidate and political leader. We endorse Kerry Healey for governor.
Joe Sollitto, the diligent, approachable, responsible Dukes County Superior Court clerk, deserves reelection. In his 30 years at court, this former Oak Bluffs police officer and trained lawyer has earned the high regard of lawyers, prosecutors, and judges, who agree that he is a fair, friendly, businesslike clerk who runs an orderly court. Islanders have depended on Joe Sollitto for sensible, even-handed administration of the Island court system, and they have every reason to return him to office. We endorse Joe Sollitto for Superior Court clerk.
Yes on Question One
Ballot Question One would allow grocery stores to sell wine, but only with the permission of local officials and only on a scale appropriate to the size of the permanent resident community. It does not require communities to permit wine sales. The law defines grocery stores, and empowers local officials to decide whether stores fall under the definition. This is an opportunity for towns that choose to take it. It is not an imposition. The management of licenses, should a town see fit to grant them, resides with the town. Convenience and competition will help the consumer, and the expanded business opportunity will strengthen businesses. But, only if towns agree to participate. We endorse a Yes vote on Question One.
No on Question Two
Question Two would allow candidates for public office to be nominated by more than one political party or political designation to have their names appear on the ballot once for each nomination and to have their votes counted separately for each nomination, then added together to determine the winner. It means that one candidate could be nominated by a variety of splinter groups and appear on the ballot as the candidate of each, so that not only would the candidate have to attract support from the general constituency, but he or she would have to make deals with a collection of narrow interest groups. It's a horrible idea, certain to raise the noise level, the cost, and the fractious nature of not only political campaigns, but also government itself. It is a move toward disharmony and political deal making, rather than toward political resolutions and orderly government. We endorse a NO vote on Question Two.
No on Question Three
Question Three would allow child-care providers in private homes to form collective bargaining units to negotiate contracts with state agencies that regulate and support child care. This is a recipe to raise costs to state taxpayers and parents who need child care. It will make the state supervision of child-care providers less effective and more complicated, it will inflate costs to state government for child-care assistance, thus shorting other state government programs or increasing state taxes; and it will raise the cost of child care to hard-working Massachusetts families, many of whom need more, more flexible, and less expensive child-care opportunities. We endorse a No vote on Question Three.