Tisbury says yes to beer and wine, Tristan Israel


Tisbury agreed to allow restaurants to serve beer and wine. Tuesday’s town election vote carried 881-747.

Voters also returned incumbent Tristan Israel to his sixth term on the board of selectmen, deciding a three-way race. Mr. Israel got 866 votes. Challengers Angela Cywinski, 168, and Bruce Lewellyn, 543, trailed.

“Going into an election, it’s not always easy to gauge what’s going to happen,” Mr. Israel said in a phone call yesterday. “My opponents both ran good campaigns, and I have the utmost respect for both of them. I’m really grateful for all the support that the people of Tisbury have given me.”

In another closely watched race, Michael Loberg defeated incumbent Kenneth Garde for a seat on the board of health, 1,265-259.

Voters refused to fund the costs of a police contract settlement, whose terms were decided in a binding arbitration.

Despite gloomy weather, Tisbury voters turned out in force. A total of 1,639 voters, or 56 percent of the town’s 2,902 registered voters went to the polls, according to a tally provided by town clerk Marion Mudge.

“It is a record for any town election that I can remember,” she said late Tuesday night.

Approval of question one gives Tisbury’s selectmen the authority to grant licenses to restaurants for the sale of beer and wine. Each licensed restaurant must have a seating capacity of not less than 30 persons and the alcohol may only be sold with meals.

In 2008, a beer and wine ballot question resulted in a tie vote, 690-690, thus failing because a majority, 50 percent of the votes cast, plus one, was not achieved. A recount resulted in two more no votes.

Asked what made the difference this time, selectman Jeff Kristal said he thought one factor was the supporters made an effort to target absentee voters.

“I also think they got the facts out and didn’t muddy the water with anything other than what the facts were,” Mr. Kristal added. “I think the majority of the voters obviously realized that the time is right for beer and wine sales in Tisbury.”

Le Grenier Restaurant owner Jean Dupon also said he thought voters were more educated about the beer and wine issue this time.

“I think they realized it was not going to be the nightmare as it was first described two years ago, and that given the economy, Vineyard Haven, not just the restaurants, needed some help,” he said. “We’re going to be really responsible, and what I feel good about also is that I’m going to be able to control the consumption of alcohol, whereas before I had no say whatsoever. And to me, that is a big thing.”

Susan Goldstein, co-owner of Zephrus Restaurant and the Mansion House, expressed appreciation to Tisbury voters.

“I think they showed their understanding that Main Street and off-Main Street are all in the same boat, and that those of us who live and work in Tisbury have the same interests in preserving the character of the town,” she said. “This is not just for those of us who work hard in restaurants. This is something that was in the best interest of all the voters. It will help our town retain its historic position as the Island’s year-round port town.”

For those who opposed beer and wine sales, such as Cindy Doyle and members of the Committee to Preserve Tisbury, the election results were disappointing.

“I think this change for Tisbury is a mistake,” Ms. Doyle said. “I hope that the licenses will be granted judiciously, the regulations developed thoughtfully, and that they are implemented responsibly.”

She suggested the selectmen should host a public forum to discuss other ideas for revitalizing Tisbury, other than beer and wine sales.

Once voting has been certified, Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee said in a press release yesterday, he and the selectmen will announce a date and process for accepting applications for beer and wine licenses. Mr. Kristal said he did not know yet how long the licensing process would take. “We know there is a season coming upon us, and this will be expedited to give us enough time to review all the documents that come in with the applications and to make an informed decision,” he said.

Voters also decided five other ballot questions.

Voters turned down a request to allow the town to assess an additional $225,000 in taxes to fund the Tisbury Police Department’s union contract arbitration award. The vote was 606 yes, 934 no.

Selectman Geoghan Coogan explained yesterday that Massachusetts’s statute required the town’s approval for funding the arbitration award. Since the question failed, the arbitration agreement would go back to the selectmen and the Tisbury Police Department.

Mr. Coogan planned to talk to members of the police department yesterday afternoon.

“I feel a lot of responsibility is on the board of selectmen for not educating people on what the result of the arbitration award was, and that we were happy with it, and telling people we wanted this to be voted,” Mr. Coogan said.

The $225,000 requested in the ballot question included $125,000 for retroactive pay to settle the three-year old contract. The additional $100,000 would fund salaries going into the fourth year, fiscal year 2011, at the new arbitrated amount.

“You have to fund enough to go forward, but again, I think we really failed on getting that message out,” Mr. Coogan said. “What I’m hoping we can do is agree with the police department that the contract that the arbitrator awarded is fair to both of us, and we can go back to a special town meeting, hopefully quickly, educate the public, and get a favorable vote.”

Voters also refused a request for $120,000 for a Department of public works refuse truck, by a vote of 767-777.

Voters approved a request for $20,000 to replace the body of a DPW sander truck by a vote of 810-729.

A request for $75,000 for a generator for the Tisbury School passed 1,114 to 464.

A request for $20,000 to paint the exterior of the Tisbury Senior Center passed 1,021-545.

In uncontested races voters elected Angela A. Cywinski assessor (1,130 votes); Colleen G. McAndrews, school committee (1,179 votes); Elmer H. Silva, Jr. water commissioner (1,247 votes); Daniel Seidman, planning board (1,088 votes); James H.K. Norton (1,049 votes) and Karen Ann Casper (972 votes) as library trustees for three years; Heather Quinn (1,165 votes) library trustee for one year; Frederick W. Thifault public works commissioner (1,163 votes); and Peter R. Hefler (1,140 votes), finance and advisory committee (FinCom).

With no candidates for one library trustee slot and three seats on the FinCom, Ms. Mudge said there was an unusually large number of write-ins this election. Dolly Campbell won the most among library trustee write-ins, 33 out of 48. Fifteen other people received single votes.

The top write-in FinCom candidates included John Packer (42), Bruce Lewellyn (19), Mary Oggioni (12), and Bruce Campbell (8). Although Ms. Oggioni is one of the top four vote getters, she is an Oak Bluffs resident.

“Elected officials usually have to be town residents and voters, but apparently, it’s a bit murky at this point, and so it may end up having to go to town counsel,” Ms. Mudge said Wednesday. “Right now I’m going back into the records of 1924, to get the actual wording of the original FinCom bylaw.

“After 26 years, it’s still a learning experience, that something new comes up at every election,” she concluded.