Martha’s Vineyard forum Wednesday will highlight state office hopefuls

The event sponsored by the League of Women Voters offers about a dozen state senate and representative candidates face time with Islanders.

Ballot boxes at the Tisbury polls. — Sam Moore

Massachusetts voters will head to the polls on Thursday, Sept. 8, in a state primary election that will help set the stage for the general election in November. Although the presidential race has cast a big shadow, the local elections will figure large in community issues.

Earlier this year state Sen. Dan Wolf (D-Harwich) and state Rep. Timothy Madden (D-Nantucket), both of whom represented the Cape and islands, announced they would not seek re-election. As a result, the state primary is shaping up to be a lively contest. Five candidates for state senator and seven for state representative have jumped into the ring.

To help Island voters learn more about the candidates, the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Martha’s Vineyard will host a candidate forum on Wednesday, August 17, 4:30 to 6:30 pm, at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. The LWV is a non-partisan organization and doesn’t endorse candidates or take positions on issues. The forum is free and open to everyone.

All of the candidates for state senate and state representative accepted the League’s invitation, according to Beatrice Phear, LWV secretary and forum organizer. However, Brian Mannal has since withdrawn from the senate contest.

LWV member Deborah Medders will moderate the forum. Candidates will be asked three prepared questions pertinent to the Vineyard community regarding economic development, healthcare, and climate change, Ms. Phear said. Although no questions will be taken from the audience, there will be time after the forum for the public to meet and speak with the candidates, she added. The forum will be recorded and televised on MVTV channel 13.

Following are brief sketches of the candidates, based on campaign literature, published interviews, or phone conversations. Website or email addresses are included to find more information about individual candidates.

State Senator

All 40 seats in the Massachusetts state senate are up for election in 2016. The Cape and Islands senate district includes of the towns of Barnstable, Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, Harwich, Mashpee, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, and Yarmouth in Barnstable County; the six Martha’s Vineyard towns and Gosnold in Dukes County; and Nantucket in Nantucket County.

There are three Democratic and two Republican candidates on the ballot. Brian Mannal’s name will still appear, although he has withdrawn from the race.

Julian Cyr (D) ( of Truro worked for the state Department of Public Health and currently serves on the board of directors of Health Imperatives, a nonprofit health and human services agency that provides services to families and individuals on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. Mr. Cyr will advocate for a continuum of care for Cape and Islanders living with addiction, immediate closure of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, and strengthening employment and housing opportunities.

Sheila R. Lyons (D) ( of Wellfleet has worked over 20 years as a geriatric social worker, aiding and counseling senior citizens and their families. She has served as a Barnstable County commissioner since 2009. Some of the key issues for Ms. Lyons include jobs that offer livable wages, affordable housing, a reformed public education system, the impacts of climate change and coastal erosion, and decommissioning the Pilgrim nuclear reactor.

James H. Crocker (R) ( of Barnstable is a real estate professional who has served as a Barnstable town councilor for 10 years. On his website page titled “Cape and Island values,” Mr. Crocker advocates for stronger towns, pro-growth economic policies to strengthen small businesses, opioid treatment programs, and efficient state government.

Anthony E. Schiavi (R) ( of Harwich, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general, is a former owner of two Cape Cod companies and previously served as the town manager and police commissioner for the town of Ashland. His website states that he will advocate for fiscally responsible and transparent state government, more local aid to Cape Cod communities, policies to generate strong, sustainable job creation and growth, and housing that the current and future workforce can afford.

State Representative

All 160 seats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives are up for election in 2016. The Ninth District encompasses Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, the Elizabeth Islands, and four Falmouth precincts that include the village of Woods Hole.

There are five Democratic and no Republican candidates on the Sept. 8 primary ballot. Local candidates include Ewell Hopkins (D) of Oak Bluffs and Jacob Ferry (I) of West Tisbury. Two additional candidates are running as Independents.

Dylan Fernandes (D) ( of Falmouth most recently worked as digital director in the office of Attorney General Maura Healey, a position he resigned last spring in order to focus on his campaign. Previously, he served as political director for Ms. Healey’s 2014 campaign, managing her statewide field staff organization and digital media. Key issues for Mr. Fernandes are affordable housing, clean energy and environmental stewardship, increased public education funding, longer-term treatment for drug addiction, extending family paid medical leave, and pay equity.

Michael J. Heylin (D) ( of Falmouth is the executive director of Raynham Community Access Media, a nonprofit media organization, and has been covering events at the Massachusetts State House for the past seven years. Mr. Heylin says as a strong believer in preserving the district’s scenic and natural shorelines, he will be an advocate for the beaches, trails, and open space, while at the same time fostering business development and growth, and bringing more tourism to the area. He also plans to fight the opioid epidemic on the Cape and Islands.

Ewell Hopkins (D) ( is chairman of the Oak Bluffs Democratic Town Committee, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Democratic Council, and a member of the Oak Bluffs planning board, an elected position. He formerly worked as a business development professional. Mr. Hopkins is an advocate for guaranteeing preschool education for all children, creating better strategies for affordable housing, combating the opioid addiction crisis, implementing effective wastewater treatment, identifying specific initiatives to fight economic inequality, forging alliances between the Island communities, Falmouth, and the greater Cape, and organizing strong non-partisan involvement in the political process.

Jessica G. Lambert (D) ( of Falmouth serves as the chief information officer and an energy consultant at Next Generation Energy Initiative, a not-for-profit organization she helped found in 2010. “I believe we need to create more living wage jobs, continuously improve our excellent schools, increase access to public services for seniors, preserve the extraordinary beauty and health of our natural resources, make public safety a top priority, and address our energy concerns,” Ms. Lambert says on her website.

Timothy Soverino (D) (email of Nantucket is a former four-term selectman. Now retired, he was the fire alarm superintendent for the Nantucket Fire Department for 25 years, responsible for commercial fire alarm and sprinkler inspections and installations. Mr. Soverino also served as a firefighter and EMT. One of his primary issues is affordability for the island communities, and figuring out economic solutions to help local families continue to live on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Jacob N. Ferry (I) ( of West Tisbury currently works at the Lazy Frog game store and the 20byNine restaurant in Oak Bluffs. He previously interned for Rep. Tim Madden before becoming chief of staff for state Rep. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), a job he left last spring to conduct his campaign. A 2010 graduate of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, Mr. Ferry was a transportation planning intern at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission after graduating from college in 2014. His major focus is in local politics and giving towns more say in decisions on how state money is spent locally.   

Tobias B. Glidden (I) ( of Nantucket is a self-employed stone mason. In 2013, at age 24, he was the youngest Nantucket selectman ever elected. Key issues for Mr. Glidden are water quality, local community control in energy cost negotiations and sourcing, historic preservation, safe bicycle routes, and preserving fisheries around the Cape and Islands.

Other races

The Sept. 8 primary ballot will include candidates for a Ninth District representative in U.S. Congress, First District councillor, Dukes County sheriff, Dukes County registrar of deeds, and seven Dukes County commissioners.

For more information or questions about the candidate forum, email