Oak Bluffs elects Gail Barmakian, spurns Prop. 2.5 requests


Gail Barmakian won a four-way race for a seat on the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen, in balloting on April 15. Voters rejected 11 of the 12 Proposition 2.5 override questions on the ballot.

Ms. Barmakian, a lawyer in private practice who stressed her business background, received 477 votes. She outdistanced retired teacher Karen S. Achille (398 votes), regional high school math teacher Kris W. Chvatal (282 votes), and paramedic Kenneth P. Davey, 52 votes.

“I’m very happy, I’m looking forward to it, to getting down to work,” Ms. Barmakian said the day after the election. “I thank all the voters that supported me.”

A total of 1,222, or 37 percent of the town’s 3,319 registered voters, went to the polls, according to the town clerk.

Ms. Barmakian has had differences with the board over the past year, including over the controversial Bradley Square affordable housing project. At its July 14, 2009 meeting, the selectmen declined to reappoint Ms. Barmakian to a seat on the zoning board of appeals (ZBA). Ms. Barmakian opposed the scope of the Bradley Square project during several contentious ZBA hearings in 2009. Four current board members, Greg Coogan, Duncan Ross, Ron DiOrio and Kathy Burton voted for another candidate. Kerry Scott, who has been closely aligned with Ms. Barmakian on several issues, was the only dissenting vote.

While there was sharp division last summer following the board’s decision not to reappoint Ms. Barmakian, the mood following last week’s election was far more conciliatory.

“There are obviously challenges we’re facing,” Ms. Barmakian said. “I’m looking forward to working with the board.”

“I sent her a letter congratulating her on the election and offered her whatever assistance I could,” said selectman Ron DiOrio. “I think the problems facing the town are such that once the election is over, it’s over, and it’s time for the board to cooperatively and collectively work for the good of Oak Bluffs taxpayers.”

Oak Bluffs voters overwhelmingly rejected 11 of 12 ballot questions last Thursday. Voters only agreed to a request for $37,500 to fully fund the Oak Bluffs School budget, by a vote of 620 to 560. The evening before the ballot, town meeting approved all the override questions, though some speakers called for a favorable vote merely, they said, to get the issues to the ballot, rather than deal with them on May 4, when the town meeting resumes for a third night. Override questions must be approved by town meeting and by voters in a separate ballot, in order to be enacted.

Question one, a Proposition 2.5 request for $27,286 to fund the assessors’ salary budget line item, failed by a vote of 247 to 922.

Question two, a request for $96,980 to fully fund the police budget, failed by a vote of 348 to 833.

Question three, a request for $7,000 for the hard cash match toward the Drug Task Force grant, failed by a vote of 469 to 709.

Question four, a request for $67,546 in additional funding for the fire department budget, failed by a vote of 303 to 878.

Question five, a request for $19,436 to fully fund the position of assistant shellfish warden, failed by a vote of 312 to 855.

Question six, a request for $10,000 to purchase a four-stroke outboard engine for the shellfish department, failed by a vote of 313 to 852.

Question seven, a request for $35,000 to lease a loader, failed by a vote of 313 to 852.

Question eight, a request for $30,000 to fully fund the town building maintenance budget line item, failed by a vote of 338 to 829.

Question nine, a request for $220,000 to implement a yearly paving and road maintenance program, failed by a vote of 443 to 724.

Question ten, a request for $37,500 to fully fund the Oak Bluffs School budget, passed.

Question 11, a request for $30,743 to fund the position of board of health assistant, failed by a vote of 269 to 899.

Question 12, a request for $75,000 to staff the town beach with lifeguards, failed by a vote of 415 to 769.

In other election developments, in a three-way race for two constable positions, voters picked David Oliveira (746) and Sharon S. Rzemien (684) over George M. Warren (238).

Linda Wilson was elected to a three-year term as cemetery commissioner with 52 write-in votes.

In uncontested races voters elected David Richardson, moderator (715 votes); David T. Caron, board of health (863 votes); Steven Auerbach, finance and advisory committee (748 votes) to a two-year term; Bill McGrath (724 votes), Robert Arthur Blythe Jr. (567 votes), and Catherine L. Goudy (613 votes) to three-year terms on the finance and advisory committee; Richard D. Combra Jr., park commissioner (853); Robert W. Fehl, planning board (725 votes); Lisa Anne Reagan, school committee (905 votes); Priscilla L. Sylvia, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission (909 votes); Robert Iadicicco, wastewater commission (769 votes); Duncan Ross, water district moderator (836 votes); Michael S. deBettencourt, water district commissioner (923 votes).