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.