VOTES ARE IN: Martha’s Vineyard voters ride the blue wave

Democrats win big on Island.


Democrats had a strong showing on the Island, with all of the votes counted, Chilmark’s results coming in after midnight. (See results.)

On a brisk fall day filled with sunshine, there was a steady stream of voters at the Island’s six polling places. All of the towns had greater than a 50 percent turnout, with Aquinnah leading the way with 66.6 percent of its 413 voters casting ballots, while Edgartown had 50.5 percent of its 4,312 registered voters cast ballots. Overall, 55.4 percent of the Island’s eligible 16,620 voters cast ballots.

In a race that was being watched closely — Cape and Islands district attorney — defense attorney Rob Galibois had a commanding victory over Republican Dan Higgins on the Island, 6,752-2,114.

So for the first time since 1971, the district attorney’s office will be held by a Democrat. In an interview with The Times Wednesday morning, Galibois said, “We are so grateful that the voters are giving us a chance, and we’re looking forward to pushing forward with the agenda that we talked about during the campaign.” 

Galibois said he has chosen career prosecutor Jessica Elumba, formerly of the Plymouth and Bristol County District Attorneys’ Offices and the state attorney general’s office, to be his first assistant district attorney. Galibois described Elumba as “immensely respected by law enforcement.”

Interviews for other staff at his office will occur the weekend of Nov. 19 and 20, Galibois said. Applications, he said, will be welcomed from both inside and outside the previous administration. Position decisions are expected to be made by Dec. 14, Galibois said.

Galibois said he plans to contact and visit each of the 22 police chiefs in the district before he is sworn in in January, so he can listen to their priorities directly. 

Galibois also said he and Elumba are scheduled to meet with outgoing DA Michael O’Keefe and his first assistant district attorney, Michael Trudeau, early Wednesday afternoon. 

As far as the election itself, Galibois said, “What was nice was some of the earlier numbers that were rolling in came from Martha’s Vineyard. And we saw the margin of victory in each of the towns, and that gave us a good feeling early on in the night. And fortunately it carried through the balance of the evening. And I must acknowledge that Dan Higgins reached out to me at around quarter to 11 or so last night to concede.”

He also said, “I had the good fortune to have my wife, our older son, and both my parents by my side as the results were coming in — and my brother Michael, who flew in from Chicago. And I will say I had the best Zoom conference in my life as our younger son Zoomed throughout the night from Duke University.” 

Higgins didn’t respond to requests for post-election comment.

Meanwhile, incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, D-Bourne, won handily over Republican challenger Jesse Brown of Plymouth on the Island, 7,097-1,906. Keating has been declared the winner in the race.

“Congressman Keating has won in a decisive victory, and is thankful for all of the support from the people of Southeastern Massachusetts,” Chris Matthews, a spokesman for Keating, wrote in an email to The Times.

Brown congratulated Congressman Keating on his victory. “I’m proud of the campaign we ran and the issues we raised, and continue to believe strongly that America’s best days are ahead if we come together as a nation and focus on solving problems,” he told The Times. “I wish Congressman Keating well.”

In the contested state Senate race, Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, performed well over his Republican challenger Christopher Lauzon, 6,998-1,945, on the Island. He ultimately won re-election districtwide. On Wednesday morning, Cyr told The Times that he’s “really grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the people of Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, and Nantucket” at the State House. “It’s hard to believe this is going into my fourth term; I feel like I just got here,” he said. “I’m still really fired up to continue to tackle these big challenges.”

Late Wednesday, Lauzon reached out to The Times and congratulated Cyr. “I would like to congratulate Senator Cyr on his reelection, and thank my family, friends and volunteers for their steadfast support from day one of this campaign,” he wrote. “I came in as a political newcomer and we were able to achieve success in the primary and beyond, but came up short despite hard work and a grassroots approach. I thank the people of the Cape & Islands for hearing my message of common sense conservative principles and a return to balance, accountability and accessibility. Now that this race is over, I am looking toward the future to continue spreading that message and remaining involved in the communities of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.”

There were two town-specific ballot questions. In Tisbury, Question 5, the local question concerning the sale of alcohol in Vineyard Haven restaurants, received overwhelming support with a vote of 1,039-483. That means that soon patrons will be able to get a drink without necessarily purchasing food. Town clerk Hilary Conklin said there was a problem with the coding on mail-in ballots for Question 5, so those ballots had to be counted by hand, which delayed those results. Ultimately, when those votes were counted, the measure won by a vote of 1,317-626.

J.B. Blau, who owns restaurants in Tisbury as well as Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, has said that being able to serve alcohol in Vineyard Haven allows businesses to compete with the restaurants in the other two up-Island towns. “Very happy to see that Tisbury spoke loudly and clearly last night with 68 percent support for Question 5,” Blau told The Times. “After more than a decade of a cautious climb to have similar regulations to most towns, Tisbury now has a much better chance to keep residents and visitors in town, while bolstering the important business community, and increasing the meals and hospitality tax contributions. The residents of Tisbury have made their voice abundantly clear, and the business community is thankful for a more level playing field.”

Tisbury town administrator Jay Grande said the next steps are a hearing and a vote by the select board. Grande said he believes a hearing needs to take place so the board can decide if it will amend the present alcohol regulations. He stressed the new regulations are governed by the word “may” as opposed to “shall,” meaning the regulations are subject to the volition of the select board now that the ballot has passed. Grande said he’s exploring whether there’s a “lesser” way to amend the regulations, one that doesn’t involve a board hearing. He said he’s awaiting an opinion from town counsel. 

The select board already approved the measure in 2020; it was then endorsed by town meeting voters that same year, and it went to the legislature as a home-rule petition before coming back for the townwide vote. It’s unclear why another vote would be needed.

Meanwhile, Question 5 in Oak Bluffs, a $26 million Proposition 2½ debt exclusion to upgrade the town’s wastewater treatment facility, was also victorious, by a vote of 1,444-653.

In the race for governor, the Island was overwhelmingly in favor of Democrat Maura Healey over Republican Geoff Diehl by a vote of 7,547-1,988. Healey has been an odds-on favorite to hold the Beacon Hill office since Gov. Charlie Baker announced he would not seek a third term. At 8:02 pm, Associated Press called the race for Healey.

On the four statewide ballot questions, Vineyard voters said yes to Question 1 — the so-called millionaire’s tax — by a vote of 5,201-3,640. On Wednesday afternoon the Associated Press reported the additional 4 percent tax had won enough support statewide to pass. Edgartown was the only town to vote against it on the Island.

On Question 2, which had to do with dental insurance, voters supported it overwhelmingly, 6,969-1,747 on-Island, and statewide. But Question 3, which had to do with alcohol licenses, was rejected 4,638-3.878, which matched the outcome statewide. Finally, Question 4, which had to do with drivers licenses for immigrants, was supported 5,866-2,970, which also matched the state results, and endorses a law approved by the legislature.

Both the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and the Dukes County Commission have one seat up for grabs that will be decided by the write-in votes. Dukes County Clerk George Davis said once the ballots are tallied by the county towns’ clerks, Register of Probate Daphne DeVries, and a judge from Probate and Family Court will join him as the Dukes County board of examiners on the first Wednesday of December to certify the votes, which will then be sent to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office for certification. Debra O’Malley, spokesperson for the Secretary of the Commonwealth, said an open position goes to “whoever gets the most [collective] votes” for write-in candidates.

Reporters Rich Saltzberg, Eunki Seonwoo, and Abigail Rosen contributed to this story. Times staffers Lucas Thors, Jenna Lambert, and Dave Plath also contributed by gathering results at the Island’s polling stations.


  1. Yep Keller I was wrong. I thought Bilary would win but I was glad that I was wrong. You continue to be obsessed with retorting to every comment I make and it is an illness.

    • James, you know what one of the best things about living in a free society is? If you don’t like the politics, or anything else about where you’re living, you’re free to move. I’m sure Florida would welcome you with open arms.

    • James– I have no idea why you would not move to Florida.
      God made a protector and fighter to protect everyone in Florida– Except for gay or black people or asylum seekers of course — * hurricanes not included– BUT– Florida just had its once in a thousand year hurricane, so all good on that front.
      With the creation of her “protector and fighter,” God has guaranteed that all Florida residents ( except those mentioned above of course) will be able to keep their jobs, have liberty and happiness, truth and justice, send their kids to school, and be able to hold the hand of their loved ones as they die.– presumably even if they are dying from covid. She will of course protect you from contracting that CHINA disease.
      We don’t have any god sanctioned protectors here.
      As a matter of fact, we are mostly inclusive religions, atheist or Pastafarians. Better “get out” now
      When I first saw this ad, I thought it was a joke– but no– you can’t make this stuff up.
      I can’t wait to see what She decides to do on Her 9th day of creation.

      And really, James If you want to move to Florida, I will actually contribute $25 towards your one way bus fare.

  2. Keller I took a direct hit from Hurricane Nicole on my oceanfront penthouse and suffered no damage. I prayed to God and he answered me. He doesnt always give you what you want but prayer is a good thing. Perhaps praying for fat tires on your bicycle to navigate the sand on Beach Rd would be a good thing.

    • Andy– Yes– I saw that… Glad that your house is ok and that you are safe. Too bad that some of those other people who were praying didn’t get answered.
      I think praying is a fine thing. There have been many studies that show it has a positive effect on the well being of believers. I ate some Pasta and dedicated it to your safety as the storm hit. I really do have some compassion, you know.
      But I won’t be praying for fat tires on my bike– It is a high end pedal assisted bike ( it does not have a throttle and will not move if I am not pedaling) and it has what would be called “mountain bike” tires. Not the jumbo things for riding in the desert or on the beach.
      But fat tires and prayers are no guarantee that the sand will not push the tire in an unexpected way.
      And god can’t give everybody fat tires just when they need them.
      Some tourists come here and don’t know that the state is being negligent, and they bring their road bikes.
      It’s not just about me, you know.
      Thanks for the update.

    • andy– since it seems you are pretty effective with your praying, i wonder if you prayed for those people who’s houses washed into the ocean or those who lost their lives ?
      You seem to have a talent .

    • In order for Mr. Engelman to prove prayer works, may I suggest he pray for an amputee to get their limb back. When that prayer is answered, we will all know that prayer really works.

      • Mr Holmes you dont really understand anything about Christianity do you? Maybe you dont really want to anyway.

        • The most important thing to know about Christianity is that it’s based on a work of fiction. You may as well lead your lives based on “Where the Wild Things are”

          • Jim –I think some people are actually living their lives based on that book .

            “There should be a place where only the things you want to happen, happen”
            ― Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

            All you have to do is believe…
            Say the right prayer, and click your heels together three times.

          • Jim– the most important thing to know about christianity is that in order to keep the cult growing, parents need to scare the crap out of their kids by telling them they will burn for eternity if they do not believe in Jesus.

    • Jim– every religious organization needs money to operate and maintain their places of worship, employ staff and fund any charitable things they do.
      Faith based organizations provide many valuable services to the community.
      I see instances where the flock gets fleeced by slick charlatans. It happens across all faiths.
      Evangelicals seem to have a “flat tax” of 20 %. I like the flat tax idea.
      But I wonder if Christian multimillionaires with posh houses on exclusive islands and beachfront penthouses on the coast of Florida really put in the full 20 %.
      Not that that matters, but given the propensity for wealthy conservatives to object to “taxes” on wealthy people, I have to wonder.
      But if the flock is happy to give the church money, I am fine with it.
      I doubt there is any impropriety within any of the churches on this island, and I appreciate all they give to the community.
      Just sayin.

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