Get ready to vote


We know you’re still basking in the glow of another successful summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Some of our favorite traditions were back in full swing, with no restrictions — the Oak Bluffs fireworks, the Ag Fair, the Edgartown fireworks and parade among them. We were pleased to be able to attend some great public events at the Tabernacle, at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, and, of course, we were thrilled to be able to host some of the Island’s most gifted authors at our Islanders Write event at Featherstone Center for the Arts.

It was good to return to some semblance of normalcy amid what has been a deadly and exhausting pandemic.

The summer was not without its trials and tribulations. It started with that awful ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — taking the decision over reproductive rights out of the hands of some women. However, that ruling should serve as a reminder that elections have consequences — the balance on the nation’s highest court shifted to a conservative majority by a president who failed to win the popular vote — so it’s vitally important to vote. (Also, if you have young adults headed off to college, it’s a good idea to get them to either vote early or grab an absentee ballot before they head off to school.)

Just one day after Labor Day, on Sept. 6, Massachusetts voters will be headed to the polls for a primary election. While all elections are important — particularly local elections where your vote has the most impact — this primary election is super-important on the Island because, for all intents and purposes, it will decide who will serve as Dukes County sheriff for the next six years.

The sheriff operates the communications center for the Island’s public safety departments, oversees the jail, and will ultimately decide what happens with that aging facility in the next few years.

The Democratic primary has incumbent Sheriff Robert Ogden facing a challenge from former Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake. Because there is no announced Republican candidate for the office, whoever wins the primary election will be the next sheriff, barring a write-in campaign in the general election. 

The primary will also decide which Republican candidate — John Carey, Daniel Higgins, or Melissa Alden — will run against Democrat Robert Galibois for Cape and Islands district attorney. Incumbent DA Michael O’Keefe has announced he is not running for re-election for an office he has held for the past 20 years. Dating back to when his predecessor, Phil Rollins, held the office, it has been in the hands of Republicans since it was created.

In both cases, it’s a rare opportunity to decide who will serve in those offices, because they only come around every six years. Look for stories on both races in this issue.

There is also a race on the Republican side for state Senate to square off against Sen. Julian Cyr, R-Truro. That race involves Daralyn Heywood and Christopher Lauzon. Meanwhile, two Republicans from Plymouth — Jesse Brown and Dan Sullivan — are seeking the Republican nomination to attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Bourne, in the 9th Congressional district.

If you wonder if your vote can make a difference, we ask you to have a conversation with Oak Bluffs select board member Gail Barmakian. In April, Barmakian narrowly won re-election by just two votes over her opponent.

So please head to the polls on Sept. 6, and again on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to do your civic duty, or be prepared to live with the consequences.