Three-way race emerges for Tisbury selectman

Loberg faces challenges from Gomez and Englert in the only contested race.

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Two challengers - Larry Gomez and Melanie Englert - have emerged to run against Melinda Loberg for Tisbury board of selectmen. - Gabrielle Mannino

Incumbent Tisbury selectman Melinda Loberg is facing two challengers in the April 14 town election. Larry Gomez, who served a single term on the board, and is a member of the town’s finance committee, and political newcomer Melanie Englert are running against Loberg.

Loberg, who has served two terms on the board and is the current chair, said there is unfinished work to be done, and that’s why she’s seeking a third term. “I thought two terms would be a right amount of commitment, but there are several big things going on that are percolating that need time to resolve. I’m deeply committed to them,” she said. “I was persuaded by others to stick it out if the voters will have me.”

Gomez said he took out papers, and wasn’t going to run until he noticed no one else had returned papers. “I didn’t want to see an election without a race,” he said.

Gomez returned his papers on Feb. 10; Englert handed in her completed forms Feb. 19, according to town records.

Englert, who moved to the Island full-time about six years ago from New York City, is a political newcomer who has been outspoken about issues on social media. It was some of those posts that prompted folks to urge her to run. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do — get involved politically here,” she said. “I feel like some new blood in there wouldn’t be a bad thing. People told me, ‘You’re opinionated, and you should give it a shot.’”

Gomez said he’s frustrated by the slow pace of town government. “There are a few things I’d like to see done or moved quicker — certainly the school and Beach Road,” Gomez said. Gomez was the lone selectman to support the new school project, which lost by just 21 votes when then-selectman Tristan Israel came out against it and Loberg abstained from the vote.

Loberg cited the school project as something she wants to see through. She has faced some criticism for that vote to abstain, but indicated there was some vindication of that vote in how split the town was about the new school project. 

“All along with the school project, I was quite uncertain about how the town felt about it. I kept hearing people wanted the school in the same place, and to keep the building. I wasn’t sure how they felt about it. I thought the town would speak loudly enough that it was clear which way we should go,” she said. “The split vote was maybe one of the reasons I couldn’t get how the town felt. I want to see through a project that can get more sound support than a 50/50 split. I want to present a project that people can get on board with and be enthusiastic about.”

Gomez said more problems are cropping up with the school, and the Beach Road project by the state is moving at a snail’s pace. Gomez was the lone member to support a symmetrical design, rather than a shared-use path. “Now we’ve lost so many years,” he said.

And a common refrain he hears from the public is: Nothing ever gets done. “I’m a squeaky wheel.”

Gomez would give up his seat on the finance committee if elected.

Loberg said there are stormwater runoff and coastal resilience grants that will be key to Beach Road’s future. She also cited her work with wastewater alternatives.

Englert, who works as a landscaper, gardener, and caretaker, raised concerns with parking in Vineyard Haven. She’d like the town to look for a way so residents could perhaps pay a fee and not get so many parking tickets issued. “Just the idea they were going to do parking meters is such an archaic thing,” she said, noting the town has moved to a kiosk plan after public backlash. She also has questions about the town’s support of a marina project for Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. “It’s kind of an odd plan,” she said.

Nominations closed on Tuesday, Feb. 25, for the town election.

Incumbent school committee member Janet Packer is not seeking re-election to that board. Jennifer Cutrer is the lone candidate for that seat. Two people — Constance Alexander and Macaleer Schilcher — took out nomination papers, but did not return them by the deadline.

Instead, Alexander returned nomination papers for a five-year term on the planning board, which is being vacated by Dan Seidman.

Incumbents Jynell Kristal and Mary Ellen Larsen are running unopposed for the finance committee. Sarah York is the lone candidate for the third seat on the finance committee that’s up for election.

Town clerk Hillary Conklin and town moderator Deborah Medders are running unopposed for re-election. There are also several library trustee candidates running unopposed, and Nancy Weaver is running unopposed to return to the M.V. Land Bank Commission, Jeffrey Pratt for the board of health, David Schwab for water commissioner, and Roy Cutrer Jr. for assessor.