Updated 1:45 pm
Tristan Israel, an outspoken selectman in Tisbury for the better part of three decades, has been evasive for months about his future on the three-member board.
Asked several times in the past few months about his future, Israel has answered the same way each time. “I’m not ready to announce anything,” he told The Times when we first asked in the fall.
On Thursday, despite a published report that he’s definitely not running, Israel told The Times, “I didn’t make an announcement. I didn’t say I am not running to them. You can read the tea leaves, but you’ll know for sure on March 6.”
And, certainly, the tea leaves have pointed for months to Israel not running for re-election. He’s cracked jokes about his age at recent meetings. “I’m 70. I have a few more years left. I’m hoping we’ll have something before I check out,” he said at a meeting Feb. 14, when harbor regulations he’s been actively working on for more than a year were sent for further review.
And Israel often refers to how long he’s been around — able to pull out anecdotes about recurring issues and when they’ve been talked about previously.
Jeff Kristal, owner of the Crocker House Inn, and Seth Gambino, who owns La Choza, have both returned nominations ahead of the March 5 deadline, town clerk Hillary Conklin said.
Kristal, who serves as chairman of the finance committee, and served six years as a selectman, said Israel’s institutional knowledge will be a loss to the board of selectmen. He’s hoping to provide some continuity on the board.
“My last few years on the FinCom have rounded out my knowledge,” said Kristal, who left the board voluntarily while his two children were preparing for college. “With one graduating and the other in college, I have more time,” he said.
Having served on the zoning board and sewer advisory board, Kristal said, he has knowledge that will be beneficial as changes occur in Vineyard Haven.
Gambino has spoken out recently against a proposed three-day music festival in Vineyard Haven. “It’s a symptom of something I’ve been seeing,” he said of the proposal. “The decision was made in a bubble. I want to change the office. I want to destigmatize town hall. I don’t want to make a career out of this.”
Gambino said he’s not anti-change or antii-growth, but says change needs to happen with compassion and care. While Kristal points to his experience both as a selectman and on town boards, Gambino said that’s a negative in his mind, and contributes to a “myopic” view. “I thank him for his service,” he said. “We need more perspectives.”
Israel has served in his role as selectman since 1995, Conklin said after reviewing town records.
Israel’s year as chairman has often felt like a retirement tour, but there are still seven days for him to change his mind. “I really just want to fade away as much as I can,” Israel said.
Updated with comments from Gambino. – Ed.