A noticeably deflated West Tisbury select board spent a portion of a special meeting Monday exploring how best to fill the seat that opened up with the passing of their friend and colleague Kent Healy.
Town clerk Tara Whiting Wells told the board, “You can leave the seat vacant until the regular annual town election, you can call for a special election, or 200 voters can sign a citizen’s petition and force a special town election …”
Whiting Wells said taking the town tradition of holding elections on Thursdays into consideration, the earliest a special town election could be called by the board was Jan. 20.
In response to a question by town administrator Jennifer Rand, Whiting Wells confirmed if an election is called, potential candidates would have 15 days to submit paperwork.
Select board chair Skipper Manter pointed out there would be two select board seats up if the town waited until the annual election — Healy’s seat and another board member’s, which would expire in 2023 and 2025 respectively.
Rand described running for the select board as “a big decision,” and one people “may not have contemplated until this moment, and it’s an unusual moment.”
Rand advocated waiting until the annual town election so folks could have time to contemplate whether or not they can run for the seat. If the select board calls an election next week, Rand said, taking the Thanksgiving holiday in mind, folks might not have sufficient time to discuss with household members the idea of running, and therefore might not be able to make a well-thought-out decision. Rand also said she felt waiting was advisable despite any challenges the town may face by extending a two-member select board situation through the winter.
Manter told his fellow board member Cynthia Mitchell that he’d like to take election possibilities under advisement and return to the subject at the next meeting.
Mitchell said she was fine with waiting, but noted it adds another week to the timeline.
“I’m thinking at this juncture, does another week really make a lot of difference?” Manter said.
In other business, the board authorized Fire Chief Greg Pachico to send a letter to property owners notifying them of the need to post a clear street address and to make driveways and private entrances passable. Chief Pachico said fire vehicles continue to encounter impassable driveways, or driveways too low or narrow. Those constrictions mostly stem from unkempt vegetation, he said. Such constricted driveways are damaging fire vehicles.
“I think it makes great sense,” Mitchell said of the letter.