The seven Dukes County commissioners are poised to make their annual round of appointments. According to a legal ad on Page 21 placed in today's issue of The Times, the county commissioners plan to fill 16 appointed positions when they meet Jan. 9, in their first meeting of the New Year.
The deadline to apply is 4:30 pm on Jan. 8. The ad states that all of the positions are currently filled, and incumbents are invited to seek reappointment, "However, the county is committed to outreach for well-qualified volunteers."
In terms of overall duties, the county commissioners' authority to make key appointments may be their most significant responsibility and the action that most intersects with the lives of Island residents and visitors.
In the past, the county's appointments to the Martha's Vineyard Airport commission and the Steamship Authority board have significantly affected short- and long-term decision-making and policies at both of these two key agencies.
The Steamship Authority is run by five members, one each appointed from the port communities of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Falmouth, Barnstable, and New Bedford. The Nantucket member, appointed by the selectmen, and the Vineyard member, each account for 35 percent of the board's weighted vote.
Among the upcoming appointments is a three-year term as Steamship Authority member. Yesterday, Marc Hanover of Oak Bluffs, current SSA Island member, said he will ask the county commissioners to reappoint him to another term.
Mr. Hanover, a well-known businessman and owner of Linda Jean's Restaurant, previously served as Oak Bluffs's representative to the Steamship Authority port council. The county commissioners appointed Mr. Hanover to complete the unfinished term of Kathryn Roessel of Tisbury, who died unexpectedly at her Vineyard Haven home on Nov. 27, 2004. They later appointed him to a full three-year term.
Mr. Hanover told The Times that the Steamship Authority has accomplished much in terms of customer service improvements, but there is much more to do and he enjoys a good working relationship with the other members of the board built up over time. "There are some major issues coming up that we need to focus on, and I look forward to the challenge," he said, "and hopefully the county commissioners will reappoint me."
The county commissioners will also make two appointments to the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission. The terms of John Alley of West Tisbury, who is also a county commissioner, and John Coskie of Edgartown, a businessman, are set to expire.
Efforts to reach both men yesterday to ask each if he plans to seek reappointment were unsuccessful.
The airport commission appointments have been a frequent flash point in the recent history of the county. The county commissioners have faced criticism for self-appointing county commissioners to the airport commission over candidates with considerable aviation and business experience and for efforts to meddle in airport affairs.
A Superior Court decision in a costly lawsuit between the airport and county commissions that upheld the statutory authority of the airport commission ultimately led to the creation of the Dukes County Charter Study Commission and a full-fledged examination of county government.
In addition to the Steamship Authority and airport commission the county commissioners will be seeking to make appointments to the following positions and areas: Associate Commissioner for Health Care Access; Associate Commissioner for Affairs Concerning Handicapped Persons; Associate Commissioner for Affairs Concerning the Elderly; Associate Commissioner for Affairs Concerning Youth (Adult); Associate Commissioner for Affairs Concerning Youth (Youth); Cape Light Compact; Emergency Management Director; Asst. representative to Steamship Authority for Emergency Affairs; Representative to Medical Reserve Corps; Delegate to the Pilgrim RC&D; Dukes County Health Council; Steamship Authority member; Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission; Dukes County Regional Housing Authority; and representatives to the Cape Cod Municipal Health Group.
According to the county, letters of interest may be submitted by mail (P.O. Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539), e-mail (email@example.com), fax (508-696-3841) or in person at the county office located at 9 Airport Road in Edgartown. For information, call Noreen Mavro Flanders, acting county manager at 508-696-3840.