SSA candidates challenging board incumbent

Dukes County Commissioners are expected to make Steamship Authority and Martha's Vineyard Airport commission appointments on March 1. — MV Times

Dukes County Commissioners heard from candidates for both the Steamship Authority board and the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission on Thursday. 

Three positions are currently open for appointment by the county, with terms ending for Jim Malkin on the Steamship, and Geoffrey Wheeler and Jack Ensor on the airport commission. All three incumbents are seeking reappointment for three-year terms.

Hoping to take over Malkin’s role on the Steamship Authority board are new Island resident Marc Crisafulli and former town assessor for Aquinnah Angela Cywinski.

Crisafulli has also applied to be county appointee to the airport commission. 

During interviews Thursday, DCC chair Christine Todd asked Malkin what he feels he’s accomplished over his last three years in the role.

Malkin said he believes he’s enabled better transparency regarding steamship operations, along with helping to secure the three new vessels to add to the SSA’s fleet.

“Fact-based communication” to Islanders has increased, he said, although the SSA “still has a tremendous amount of improvements” to be done.

Moving forward, Malkin said, he’s focused on the “long-term stability of the [SSA’s] IT infrastructure,” and “maintaining an economic cost of travel for people on the Island.” Malkin also said that keeping up with, and improving, employee training, along with maintaining the Steamship’s vessels and keeping an “adequate amount of spare parts,” are also among his priorities. 

Meanwhile, Cynwinski said she’d be right for the role due to her experience in logistics. She agreed with Malkin that top priorities include boat maintenance and personnel training.

Cynwinski said the Steamship “has progressively shown issues” surrounding vessel viability. 

Prices have risen, and the “morale of the employees has declined,” she said. 

“The Steamship is complacent,” she said. The Island needs an “efficient transportation system.” 

She pointed to the recent operation problems over the holidays that left a number of travelers stranded on and off the Island. The SSA ought to put Islanders first, she said, “then tourism second.”

On why he should be reappointed to the M.V. Airport Commission, Geoff Wheeler told County commissioners that he’s been involved in aviation since college. “We’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years,” he said of the airport commission.

Jack Ensor, the other airport commission incumbent, said, “There’s work to be done,” including improving passenger experience. 

Marc Crisafulli, applicant for both the SSA board and airport commission, said he’s interested in the positions with the acknowledgment that he knows less about the two entities than the other candidates. A former executive for Bally’s Casino and chair of the I-95 Commission, Crisafulli said his varied background would be an asset to local government. Even if he’s not appointed, he said, he is looking forward to learning more about the Island and its governing bodies.

County commissioners made no vote Thursday, as appointments are expected to be made March 1.