Complaint questions voter registration of Trip Barnes

A complaint has been filed alleging that Trip Barnes does not live in Tisbury, despite being the elected member of the Martha's Vineyard Commission from the town. - Gabrielle Mannino

Tisbury town clerk Hillary Conklin is looking into a complaint that Clarence “Trip” Barnes III does not live in town, and thus should not be registered as a voter or be an elected member of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission representing the town.

Conklin told The Times she has asked the town’s attorney to review the letter from Laurie Medeiros, who alleges that she was employed by Barnes and that he has “never slept or stayed overnight” at 300 State Rd.

“I love my town and believe everyone should have to abide by the same rules, and I’m tired of some people bending those rules to benefit themselves politically and financially,” Medeiros wrote in the letter sent to the board of selectmen.

Once she has some direction from town counsel, Conklin plans to call a meeting of the board of registrars to review the allegations by Medeiros.

Barnes told The Times Medeiros is a disgruntled employee of Barnes Moving and Storage, which is now owned by Carroll Trucking. Barnes still manages the moving company, and refused to give Medeiros a raise to $20 per hour, prompting her to quit, he said.

“I was really surprised by her letter,” Barnes said using some unprintable, salty language. “She has no idea where I live or don’t live.”

Medeiros could not be reached for further comment.

Barnes said he has owned houses all over Tisbury, and has a bed at 300 State Rd. at his Tisbury offices. Medeiros wrote that he lives in West Tisbury, but Barnes said that’s where his fiancée lives.

“What I told the gal at town hall, 90 percent of the time I’m on the highway — that’s my home,” he said. “I was kind of insulted by that [letter] after the number of votes I got in the election, and the hard work I’ve done.”

Josh Goldstein, who serves on the MVC alongside Barnes, declined to comment, saying it’s a town — not a commission — issue. “I think Trip would win an election wherever he resides,” Goldstein said.

In a guide to Residence for Voting Purposes provided by Conklin, state law requires a candidate for elected office to be a registered voter and therefore a resident. “If an elected town official changes his residence out of the town, the office is automatically vacant,” the guidelines state. “If the official serves as a member of an elected board, the board may vote to declare the position vacant. Any registered voter in the town may question the official’s residence in a voter registration challenge proceeding before the local registrar of voters.”

According to the guidelines, the burden of proof is on the person bringing the complaint.

Barnes said he’s not sure where the issue will go, but he ticked off a litany of projects he’s worked on in Tisbury through the years. “I think I’m as much a resident of Vineyard Haven as I ever have been,” he said.


  1. I love this kind of reporting. Lots of quotes but no statement that says “I live at 300 State Road”, only “I have a bed”. BTW. Can that property get a clean up?

  2. Tripp may well have done, and in fact does a lot for the town, however, that has nothing to do with the State law. Ok, he admits he has a bed at 300, but says nothing about using that bed. I drive by the West Tisbury property daily, and I’m willing to bet he stays there or elsewhere 99% of the time, and on that bed at 300? What – after a long day of moving furniture up to second floor walkups he comes back to 300 totally exhausted and plunks down on that comfy bed in a corner behind a stack of book boxes and snoozes? NO! he doesn’t move furniture anymore, and he sleeps in a comfortable house, with a comfortable bed, in a comfortable town which is NOT Tisbury. Laws are laws, regardless of how much someone does for a town. Where do you live the large majority of time? WT or Tis – that is the question we need to know.

  3. Please: Trip Barnes not only has a bed at 300 State Road, trust me, he has indeed slept in it many many times for many many years.

  4. Good grief, “laws are laws”… “we need to know”… really? What trite, vindictive, self-righteous blather. Trip is one of the finest characters who has ever lived on Martha’s Vineyard. He owns properties in multiple towns, and nobody has any business whatsoever examining which sleeping quarters he chooses. Just say thanks for your decades of meaningful contributions to the island Mr. Barnes, and then you ankle biters can go spout off about something else. Maybe that asinine casino project, for instance… now that’s laundry worth doing in public.

  5. The island is 25 by 7 miles. No one should care where he lives. If we had one municipality we would save millions.

  6. I still like direct answers to questions…, here’s an answer to residency requirement from the State for County commissions…. see page 15.
    Dead issue unless Tisbury has a local ordinance that supersedes the State and requires residence which I could not find in the town bylaws. Might be different for Town offices, but for County offices, this is a non story. Still would like to see the “Residence” on State road cleaned up. And thank you to everyone who takes the time to serve regardless of their intentions.

    • Huh, Not sure what you mean? You have to reside in the town you vote in. He does not live in Tisbury now, may have but appears he does not now. The complainant states he does not live at 300 State Road. Not a moot point and County elections as well as Commission elections have their own form of rules. No more than 2 from one town etc. Does not matter what he’s done or has not done for the island it’s illegal to “represent” a town or board if you’ve lied on your registration papers. I think it’s a state law and therefor a violation.

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