Chilmark select board candidates meet with voters

The annual town election will be on April 26. 


The two candidates running for the Chilmark Select Board, Russell Maloney and Marie Larsen, had an opportunity to meet with voters and hear constituents’ concerns this week. Maloney and Larsen are competing to win the seat of longtime Chilmark Select Board member Warren Doty, who announced in January he would not seek re-election. 

In a packed meeting room at the Chilmark library, the League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard hosted a candidates’ forum on Monday evening that was moderated by former league president Lorna Andrade. “This is a magnificent, democratic group out here tonight,” Andrade said. “I’ve never seen so many people that attended this forum in Chilmark.” 

Maloney came to Martha’s Vineyard after retiring from a finance career in New York. He has lived in Chilmark for 20 years, and has worked to protect the town’s natural resources by serving on the Chilmark conservation committee and Chilmark zoning board of appeals. He also serves on the Island Autism board. Maloney underscored that he wants to hear the concerns of Chilmark residents as a select board member. “I believe I can serve our townspeople with competency and integrity,” he said. 

Larsen was originally from Boston, and has done a variety of work while living on the Island, where she said she experienced the “Vineyard shuffle.” Her family was able to eventually buy a home in Chilmark eight years ago. Larsen underscored that she understands the Island community, having lived on Martha’s Vineyard for more than 40 years, and having “lived the issues.” She and her husband eventually opened the Edgartown Seafood Market; she holds a degree in economics from Smith College. “I love Chilmark, and I hope to be a part of the solution,” she said. 

There were some issues the candidates shared views on, such as a need to decrease taxes and improving Chilmark School facilities, but the big shared concern — albeit for different reasons — was the Martha’s Vineyard housing bank. Over 200 Islanders traveled to Boston last month to advocate for the creation of the housing bank, seen as a way to help with the Island’s housing crisis, with the Massachusetts state legislature. While Maloney and Larson both supported the housing bank’s concept, they were concerned about how it would be implemented. Both of them mentioned that the housing bank’s benefits might not be as pronounced for Chilmark compared with other towns, because of its expensive properties. Maloney pointed out potential legal problems of the legislation requiring year-round residency and employment, which he said could be considered discriminatory. 

The candidates also had some differing priorities. Maloney said some current projects threaten the character of the town. He also expressed displeasure at an increase of people from New York or Boston coming into Chilmark to develop properties without understanding the town, and without as much concern for the environment. Larsen said that many young people have been priced out of Chilmark, and the town needs a capital improvement plan to properly prioritize projects. She also underscored the importance of protecting Menemsha as a town resource. 

When the topics of walkability and biking in the town came up, Maloney said he had issues about “tearing up” land to build an asphalt bike path; he said more information would be needed on how many people would use a path. Larsen said she was in favor of improving walkability and bikeability, even if it changes the characteristics of the town, especially with the concern of climate change. 

The candidates also shared differing ideas on what could be done for the Chilmark School, although both of them agreed on the need to improve the facilities. Maloney said that it could be beneficial to regionalize the elementary and middle schools into a single facility, like Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He said this was because of the expensive renovations Island schools are undergoing or in the planning stages, such as Chilmark School’s HVAC repairs. Although he did not want to regionalize town governments, he said, unifying the schools could help reduce costs for the Island. Larsen, on the other hand, focused on a need for a preschool in the town in a separate facility from Chilmark School. 

Meanwhile, the candidates were asked whether they support a “wet” or “dry” Chilmark. Tisbury became the most recent town to allow serving alcohol without food in December. Maloney said he would be in favor of allowing alcohol sales in town restaurants, considering people already drink at places like Chilmark Tavern, which has a “bring your own beer” system.” Larsen said she would personally vote for it, but added this was an issue that would need to go to the voters and not just the select board. 

In his final statement, Maloney listed what he believed will be the most important duties as a select board member: listening to voters and town staff, being able to learn, and being able to lead and enact the town’s wishes. “I promise you that if I am elected, I will listen, I will learn, and I will lead,” he said. 

Larsen said she looks forward to serving the town, and that her approachability will help address residents’ concerns. “I care about where our money goes into this town,” she said. “I love seeing everyone walk by my house … I think I can help make this town a better place. I want this town to be a multigenerational place where people enjoy each other and enjoy the town.” 

Candidates for two uncontested races, Kaila Allen-Poisin running for the Chilmark library board of trustees, and incumbent Matthew Poole running for the Chilmark board of health, also took time to meet with voters. 

The Chilmark annual town election will take place at the Chilmark Community Center on Wednesday, April 26, from noon to 8 pm. 

The forum will be available on the MVTV website.


  1. How will Chilmark benefit from the housing bank? It the bill passes, we will eventually be able to go to a hospital that has its positions filled, not one with over a hundred unfilled positions. If we need a plumber, an electrician, a landscaper, a restaurant, or a store, they won’t be closed because the young workers, who grew up on the island, will now be able to find housing. Families won’t be torn apart because their kids can’t find a place to live. Go to To see how much the housing bank could do for the island in just one year.

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