Two candidates are running for the select board in the only contested race on the Tisbury ballot. Polls will be open on Tuesday, June 22, from 12 noon to 8 pm. A day of early voting is also planned for Thursday, June 17, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Incumbent Jim Rogers, a retired deputy fire chief, faces a challenge from Roy Cutrer. Rogers has served three years on the board, the last year as its chairman. Prior to that he had stints on the finance committee, board of health, personnel board, and the zoning board of appeals. He is a lifelong resident of Tisbury and is an electrician. He also has a consulting business where he performs forensic investigations and code analysis.
Cutrer has served on the board of assessors for the past 19 years. He has also served on union contract negotiating committees.
Cutrer attended classes at Pima Community College and the University of Arizona. He has worked in production control at Samsonite Corp. and IBM, as well as being a real estate broker.
We asked both candidates the same questions. Here’s how they responded.
Why are you running for office?
Rogers: For the same reasons that I originally ran and that is to bring my experience to the town and try to help the town move forward in many areas. Since being elected I have worked with the other board members in reorganizing many of our committees and our committees have been working very hard in many areas. I have served on the finance committee, board of health, fire department, personnel board and zoning board of appeals, all of that giving me experience in town government process. As a lifelong citizen of the town, I have a deep appreciation for this town and a historical perspective that I bring to the table. I have been open and transparent, and I continue to encourage public oversight and involvement of all of our activities, and I want to continue working on items that we have started, such as the school building project.
Cutrer: I was first introduced to public service by Ed Coogan when he convinced me to run for Bob Rohr’s vacant seat on the board of assessors after his retirement. That was 2002, and I have not looked back nor have I regretted a minute of it. I’m very proud of the work and job that I have done on that board. I believe that at times I’ve been the voice of reason. I feel it’s my time to take my seat at the select board’s table, hopefully as a voice of reason.
What do you see as the town’s top priorities?
Rogers: The town’s top priority is first and foremost the school. Second is our town’s
infrastructure, including roadways and sidewalks. Our DPW director, in conjunction with our consultant, has developed a long-term paving and maintenance program for our roadways. A combined effort with the planning board to develop a master plan and to continually review zoning and necessary zoning changes will be a priority in the next couple of years. Finding alternate funding sources to reduce the burden on the property taxpayers. We need to continue to do our part in the housing issue, however that is really a global issue and something that may be helped by the new initiative to have a housing bank funded in a similar fashion as the land bank. These are just a few; I can list many more.
Cutrer: I see the town’s priorities as, first the Tisbury School, and housing. But I understand that the town has many challenges ahead such as bringing more people to the Tisbury businesses, safe passage between Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven for bikes and pedestrians, and climate change, just to name a few.
Do you support the Tisbury School renovation and addition project?
Rogers: I do support this project which is being presented to the voters. I did not support the project last time for various reasons. I feel the new school building committee has a much better plan that supports the education plan, retains the character and history of the town and Island and I wholeheartedly support the school and designs. Over the past two years I have been the select board representative to the school building committee. I also support a continued effort to look for grants and any other funding sources for this project to reduce the impact on the taxpayers. Having a proper interim school during the construction process is a critical element of this project. I recommend that people look at the project on the school web page and please come to the special town meeting to listen and discuss.
Cutrer: I absolutely support the Tisbury school. The children of Tisbury deserve a school building conducive to learning.
Would you support an inspector general for Tisbury, a person independent of the select board, who would investigate and report ethical, criminal or fiscal misconduct?
Rogers: The town currently uses an independent firm to conduct an annual financial audit. We have asked for the state to review our financial operations through their technical assistance bureau. There are state mandated policies and procedures in place relative to ethical conduct. That being said, if there was any evidence of criminal or ethical wrongdoing by any public official or employee, I would not have an issue with an investigation being performed by an independent third party.
Cutrer: I don’t have a comment at this time.
Would you support a merger of the Oak Bluffs and Tisbury police departments and a police oversight board as suggested by the town’s consultant (Wasserman)?
Rogers: A merger is not as easy as it sounds and would require multiple levels of legislative actions both locally and at the state level. I am open to working with other Island towns on shared services and shared administrative functions. I don’t think we should limit sharing services just with the police department but should have talks to combine services where it makes sense. If the citizens of Tisbury requested that an oversight board be formed, I would not be adverse to pursuing such an option.
Cutrer: No, I would not support a merger between the two departments at this time.
Are there any other opportunities for regionalization that you think the town should pursue or support?
Rogers: There are multiple areas where Island towns should discuss shared services or resources. We are on an Island and all interconnected. Having one person that administers the delivery of services in more than one town should be reviewed and discussed. We have an opportunity to share services with other towns if not Island wide regionalization and we are exploring all those that make sense and we have willing participants. Towns having agreements for the shared purchase and use of large pieces of equipment should also be discussed and reviewed. These things take time so the sooner the better to open discussions.
Cutrer: I’m not a fan of regionalization, but I’m willing to listen.
Do you think the town should seek reimbursement from the Mansion House for the hotel’s illegal pumping of water into the wastewater treatment plant?
Rogers: The engineering firm that has been working for the town has been reviewing data and will be attempting to place a quantifiable flow that transpired. Once that is done a discussion should take place between the property owners and the town regarding necessary payment for the increased flow. The Wastewater Superintendent has been reviewing every building that is connected to the town sewer system to make certain there are no more connections sending groundwater into the town sewer system.
Cutrer: I don’t have a comment at this time.
Do you support the 40B projects proposed for Beach Road (Sawyer group) and State Road (Katzen)?
Rogers: I support the projects in a more limited capacity than what was submitted to the Selectboard. The Selectboard does not have permitting functions for either project, however, we did vote to send a letter to the state informing them that we believe the project density is too great at either location and at the proposed development rate would create a strain on our infrastructure.
Cutrer: Both of these projects are using 40B for the intended purpose, the housing is needed and there are no perfect projects left to develop.