Murphy wins select board race by 14 votes

The incumbent, who joined the board in 2021, won a close, high-turnout race.


Aquinnah’s select board chairman Tom Murphy defeated challenger Jannette Vanderhoop by 14 votes – 129 to 115 – in Thursday’s election, securing three more years on the board. 

Poll workers finished counting the 246 cast ballots at around 9 pm Thursday, an hour after polls closed, at Aquinnah town hall.

Murphy told The Times before the vote that financial stability is Aquinnah’s biggest issue, partly because the town experiences about a 10 percent increase in expenses annually. 

“Housing and education are very expensive, and our tax base is very small,” he said. “With large portions of tax-exempt land, and the largest percentage of affordable housing on the Island, our tax base is shrinking.”

“We’re pursuing non-tax revenue, but our options are limited,” he added. 

Murphy was first elected in 2021. Vanderhoop, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), was making her first run for the seat. 

Town clerk Kayla Darcy, who won reelection with 200 votes, said this year’s town elections had a particularly high turnout. Only 102 Aquinnah residents voted in the Massachusetts presidential primary on March 5, Darcy said.

In the planning board race, write-in candidate Jim Mahoney earned a three-year term with 33 votes. Katherine Newman won three years on the health board with 192 votes.

Write-in candidates Christopher Manning (19 votes) and Heidi Vanderhoop (15 votes) were each elected for three years as constable. Write-in candidate Elaine Vogel-Vanderhoop will serve three years as library trustee after receiving 14 votes.

Sarah Thulin will serve two years on the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission after receiving 143 votes. Write-in candidate David Vanderhoop received 28 votes in that race.

Voters also approved Question One on the ballot by 153 votes to 81, allowing Aquinnah to assess $330,000 in real estate and personal property taxes to fund this fiscal year’s up-Island and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Districts department budgets.

Aquinnah poll workers also saw two unorthodox write-in votes. In the Land Bank race, Godzilla was written in despite his known disregard for land conservation. In the health board race, Mr. Clean more appropriately received a single vote.