The West Tisbury select board unanimously voted to appoint Kate Hoffman as the new animal control officer Wednesday. Board members Skipper Manter and Jessica Miller took turns asking the candidates questions. These included topics such as mediation abilities, the candidates’ appreciation of West Tisbury, and scenario questions based on issues that have occurred in the town before. Scenarios included were a person wanting a neighbor’s rooster gone, and a dog that is sweet to people, but has a repeat offense of killing a neighbor’s chickens.
Hoffman competed for the position left empty after former West Tisbury animal control officer Anthony (“Tony”) Cordray’s death in May, against two other candidates — Heather Maciel and Chris West. All three have a connection to the town, but their careers have been quite different.
Hoffman was the assistant animal control officer in West Tisbury for a little over three and a half years, then became the Tisbury animal control officer in April 2020. Hoffman later decided she wanted to return to “fight for this job.”
“You guys put me through the academy. I learned everything from the town,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman developed knowledge of how to deal with small animals in other positions, such as being a groomer. She also volunteered at Kickass K9 Rescue in Boston, and as the assistant to the Everett animal control officer. As for larger animals, Hoffman learned extensively on Martha’s Vineyard.
“Now I’m very experienced,” Hoffman said. “I remember my interview with Tony, and his first question was ,‘How do you catch a goat?’”
Maciel operates Maciel Land & Tree in West Tisbury with her husband, but she has had experience raising animals while growing up in the town, including cats, dogs, and chickens. She also helped perform a C-section birth for a puppy litter. During her teenage years, she helped out at a farm that developed her familiarity with horses and cows. “I feel that, in this time in my life, I want to try to give back to my town,” Maciel said.
Maciel also has experience mediating disagreements about trees between neighbors, from her current line of work.
West is West Tisbury’s assistant animal control officer, and has been filling in following Cordray’s passing. He was hoping to step up to take the full-time position.
“Tony’s a good friend of mine, so I volunteered to work with him really to spend more time with him, honestly,” West said. “But it turned out to be something I’m fond of. I’ve loved dogs and horses all my life. I enjoy working with animals, and it seemed like a good next step.”
Besides being the assistant animal control officer, West also has experience serving the Island as a member of the West Tisbury Fire Department, and working for the Dukes County Regional Emergency Communications Center.
“I grew up in the community, so I know a lot of the people that reside here,” he said. West moved to the Island when he was in seventh grade.
After the interviews, the board deliberated on whom to choose. For transparency, Manter said the board knew each of the candidates personally to varying degrees.
Manter said Cordray “spoke very highly of Kate Hoffman,” and he leaned toward picking her. However, he said the other two were also good candidates.
“I was expecting it to be very clear-cut, but it is not as clear-cut because all of them were wonderful,” Miller said. She said Hoffman’s experience and recommendations set her apart from the other two candidates.
Since Hoffman already worked for West Tisbury before, the select board will talk with the personnel board as to what is the appropriate pay grade for her.
In other news, the select board unanimously approved the personnel board’s request for access to counsel. This was for clarification in the personnel board’s bylaw.
The select board also unanimously approved West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand sending a letter of endorsement for Cape Light Compact’s Main Street Initiative, an energy assessment program for businesses. This is a letter the town signed last year as well.
The Complete Streets committee received a $115,000 grant from MassTrails for the Old County Road shared-use path design work. The town has one year to use the grant.