County commissioners sworn in

DCC authorizes Edgartown to move forward with Norton Point takeover.

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Elected members of the Dukes County Commission serve two-year terms, and serve as the legislative body for county government. — MV Times

Dukes County Commissioners were officially sworn in Wednesday, kicking off the next two-year term for the seven members of the county’s legislative body. 

Replacing former commissioners Keith Chatinover, Leon Brathwaite, and John Cahill are newly elected members Doug Ruskin, James Klingensmith, and Juli Vanderhoop, who now join Christine Todd, Tristan Israel, Peter Wharton, and Don Leopold in the makeup of the Dukes County Commission. 

Todd, who has served on the commission for the past decade, and has participated in a number of local government positions on-Island, including the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the M.V. Airport Commission, Dukes County Health Council, and the MV Substance Use Disorder Coalition, was re-elected as commission chair.

Leopold, a member of the Chilmark finance committee and human resources board, was re-elected as commission vice chair. 

Israel has been active in local government since the ’80s, and has served on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, Tisbury select board, planning board, and conservation commission, in addition to being a member of the Island Housing Trust. 

Wharton is the most recent county representative to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and has served on the MV Airport Commission, along with being the airport’s finance and land use commission chair.

Ruskin serves as the chair of the Island Housing Trust, and was an active member of the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank, in addition to having served on the West Tisbury finance committee for eight years. 

Klingensmith grew up in Edgartown, and has spent nearly 40 years working in various capacities Islandwide, including emergency management roles, the Oak Bluffs finance advisory committee and personnel board, and West Tisbury affordable housing committee and building committee. 

Juli Vanderhoop, absent at Wednesday’s meeting due to a scheduling conflict, serves on the Aquinnah select board, and is a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). Vanderhoop was a governmental designee to the council for the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank. 

In other business, commissioners voted to authorize Edgartown to file with the National Heritage and Endangered Species Program and the Department of Environmental Protection for its management of Chappaquidick’s Norton Point. 

Brought to the commission by Edgartown conservation agent Jane Varkonda, the state and federal filings, once complete, will serve as guidelines on how to proceed with beach management when it comes to balancing wildlife protection and recreational access. 

Varkonda and her office are charged with aiding the stewardship transition of the county-owned property from the Trustees of Reservations to the town of Edgartown. 

Contract negotiations between the town and the county are a work in progress, as the official decision to shift management to Edgartown came in late December. No requests for proposals — which are typically issued for potential county contracts — are needed for the change, said county manager Martina Thornton, as the contract between Edgartown and Dukes County will operate as an intermunicipal agreement.