Serpa narrowly wins re-election in Edgartown

Land deal with Boys and Girls Club gets overwhelming support.


Longtime selectman Margaret Serpa was re-elected to her eighth term on the town’s highest ranking board in a close race Thursday, beating out challengers Juliet Mulinare and Joseph Monteiro. 

The final tally was 353 votes for Serpa, 326 votes for Mulinare, and 55 votes for Monteiro.

In other election results, Fred Mascolo held on to his position with the planning board by securing 409 votes against opponent Robert Strayton’s 284.

Serpa has served on the board of selectmen since 1999.

“I’m a very happy lady,” Serpa told the Times by phone after the polls closed. “I’m very relieved. I’m very grateful for the people who support me, and I try to do my best for Edgartown.”

Mulinare, who has served in several town roles including as procurement officer, said she was proud of her first selectman campaign: “My involvement with the town is a big part of my life, it brings me a lot of joy, and I don’t plan on abandoning that anytime soon. You can definitely expect to see me in future elections, whether it’s select board, I’ll look at other options whether it’s county or regional, whatever strikes my desire to get involved. There’s so many opportunities for public involvement, and I look forward to pursuing whatever the next phase of that is for me.”

Monteiro was not immediately available for comment.

Just over 22 percent of the town’s registered voters voted in Thursday’s election.

Voters overwhelmingly decided, 529-162, to spend $650,000 in a complex land deal with the Boys and Girls Club. The deal, which has been months in the making, secures 4.67 acres of land for the town’s New Westside Cemetery.

The club reached a purchase and sale agreement with the family of Philip (“Jeff”) Norton last spring for a 21-acre parcel in a wooded area off Edgartown–West Tisbury Road for $2.8 million. The property is sandwiched between Sweetened Water Farm and town-owned land. 

The club then approached the town, which was also looking at the property, and struck a deal to benefit the club, the town, and the Norton family. 

In other ballot question votes, voters approved $400,000 for rebuilding and resurfacing town streets, and $350,000 for repairing town sidewalks.

In another contested race, Meegan Moire Lancaster defeated Joseph Altsat for the board of health, 387-202, and Fred Mascolo defeated Robert Strayton for planning board, 409-284.

Here are the rest of the vote totals in uncontested races:

Board of assessors, Alan Gowell: 623

Financial advisory, Leslie Baynes: 581

Financial advisory, Donna Lowell-Bettencourt: 568

Financial advisory, Paul Pertile: 560

Library trustees, David Faber: 583

Library trustees, Denise Searle: 597

Parks commissioner, Jane Varkonda: 607

School committee, Kimberly Kirk: 494

Wastewater commissioner, Scott Ellis: 651

Water commissioner, David Burke: 603


Clare Lonergan contributed to this report.


  1. Edgartown lost a major opportunity to grow as a town when we re-elected Margaret Serpa over Juliet Mulinare. America on the mainland is a gerontocracy, on Martha’s Vineyard in Edgartown it really seems that way as well. What is it about the older generations and their death grip on politics? I’m sorry, but it was time. It’s been a long past time. No one is saying that Margaret isn’t a good SelectPERSON, but here we are, with no future besides the past.

    • Sorry, Dean, but there’s a lot to be said for wisdom, maturity, and a well oiled machine. Age-ism much?

      • Sara, I agree. Edgartown is very well run. We have dedicated people and they do a fantastic job. All change is not necessarily good change. As far as fresh ideas, my grands are young and they are missing their summer with their Grandmother this year, due to to the virus, and growing up here in the summer they consider Edgartown to be a great village. Congratulations, Mrs. Serpa.

    • Completely agree, Dean – no one should sit in a seat for 8 terms while there are very qualified candidates ready to serve with fresh ideas. The very narrow defeat sent loud message to the board – part of your responsibility to the town is knowing when to step aside.

    • What Dean and Beth said. COVID-19 has made running for office an even bigger challenge than usual: no public meetings, no door-knocking, no passing out flyers, and the League of Women Voters candidate forums were all held virtually. Juliet came so close, and in an ordinary year she might well have won.

  2. With Juliet Mulinare as “the alternative” who “has fresh ideas” (what ideas exactly?), it’s no wonder Granny Margaret won. You can’t seriously think voters are going to put someone in charge of budgets and people, who has little more on her resume than “community organizer”. What a joke. Get some real candidates, with real life experience, then you’ll see voters make real changes.

    • Lol. If you were actually familiar with her background, you’d realize that she probably knows as much about how the town works as any current town official, elected or appointed.

      • @Susanna – that’s exactly my point. If Granny Margaret only has 7 terms to stand on, you have to show you can and will do better. Juliet didn’t do that and she lost. Good on her for trying, but she needs to try a different approach if she’s going to get people to pick someone other than the incumbent.

        But I’d disagree that she knows as much as some of the people there. She was a procurement specialist – she knows how to buy things. Big whoop. She’s never supervised anyone, never handled a large budget, etc. That is what she needs to show if she going to get any traction. She can’t just be “the alternative”.

        • Keith, “buying stuff” is actually very little of what I did. There had never been a procurement department in Edgartown prior to my arrival, so before I could “buy things” I had to draft all the purchasing policies for the Town, for small supplies and services through to large construction projects, real estate transactions and disposals (take a look at the State procurement manuals, this was a big job). I was then responsible for drafting bid documents for large projects, and administering those contracts (with bonds and certified payroll requirements), serving as the project manager for many of them, including the Memorial Wharf restoration, as well as the replacement of the generator at the Edgartown School (a project that I also successfully applied and received a federal grant for). I’ve been the administrator for many different boards and committees and I’ve handled the Dredge’s budget (~$250k) for 6 years as well as serving as the treasurer for the Beautification Committee and the Christmas Committee for the past couple years; not big budgets, but they still have to go through the same municipal processes.
          Again, I’m happy to send over my resume, but you seem to already know so much about me. Have we ever met?

    • Hi Keith. You could ask to see my resume, before making assumptions about it, as it certainly does not include “community organizer”. I have worked for the town for 6 years and would be happy to share my actual resume with you so that you can properly and fairly judge my experience as a candidate. Please also feel free to share with me, what you believe to be “real life experience”, and I will try to get some before I run again.

      • @Juliet – My Point is that if you want to win and unseat an incumbent, who already has an advantage, you have to better illustrate your experience as it pertains to the job as well as spelling out what you would do differently. You obviously have support, but not enough to get you the seat. Make some changes and run again.

        I also think that some feel as though this was a revenge run because you didn’t get town administrator. Maybe not true but the perception is there. Just my opinion.

  3. This is such a preposterous comment, Sara, you really should know better. The only ageist thing going on are comments like yours putting down inclusiveness by hiding behind the platitudes if “well-oiled machines” – wisdom and maturity are in spades among these younger generations. Just look at Greta Thunberg, if you think there isn’t a certain time and knowledge gained, it’s very clear – you just want to keep being in charge, which is power, not service.

    • By “clearly” you mean “i have no idea what Im talking about”. Have you met with or even spoken to Juliet once about her passion and motivation for running for office? What an ignorant and inflammatory comment. This is a very smart, committed, experienced woman who scares the crap out of the old guard. As evidenced by the attacks on her character.

    • A wise decision not to select me for Town Administrator, I’ll be the first to admit; Mr. Hagerty is doing a superb job, and I do not envy it.
      Part of my motivation to run for Selectboard was an effort to support our Town Administrator, so instead of delegating every difficult task and decision to him, in meetings that last less than 10 minutes, the Board could operate in way that allows him to do HIS job, and not the Board’s. Plenty of other motivating factors were involved in me putting myself out there to try and make a difference. Happy to share them with you anytime.

  4. Drowning your car in bumper stickers in an attempt to draw attention to yourself is a red flag for me.

    • A red flag for what? Someone who has opinions and beliefs and isn’t afraid to show them? Someone who exercises their First Amendment right to free speech? Please elaborate on this “red flag”.

  5. i suppose 27 votes might be considered a “narrow” margin, but then Ryan Ruley won against Brian Packish in O.B. by only 5 votes. now that’s narrow.

Comments are closed.