David Iverson Jumps Into Select Board Race

JohnCarl McGrady •

Planning Board Vice Chair David Iverson has announced his intention to run for Select Board, making him the third candidate to enter the race to replace Melissa Murphy, who is resigning to focus on law school.

In contrast to his opponents, Iverson, who owns the Indian Summer surf shop, does not plan to run for a full term if he is elected and instead will step aside in the Spring when Murphy’s term was set to expire. Iverson sees himself as a “bridge” to the next full term and even suggested he might drop out of the race if he felt another candidate was aligned with his views on key issues.

“My main goal is just to have a common sense approach,” he said. “Local politics in the last couple of years has really gotten intense and ugly.”

If elected, Iverson will not resign from the Planning Board, where he has served for two years. During his tenure on the Planning Board, Iverson has been an outspoken opponent of the controversial Surfside Crossing project.

“We have a finite amount of space on this island,” he said. “I just wish that we could have done this in a more thoughtful way.”

Iverson has criticized the density and size of the Surfside Crossing project, in addition to what he sees as the low percentage of affordable housing units it guarantees. But he supports building more affordable housing on the island, calling it the “number one priority” for addressing Nantucket’s housing crisis.

A proponent of middle-class home ownership, Iverson said that the town needs to focus more on what he termed the “missing middle.”

“We have people...that don't qualify for affordable housing per se but are in great need,” he said. “Those would be firemen, those would be policemen, those would be young professionals on the island who are making a decent income but with the price of housing are still greatly challenged...we need to create more ownership possibilities.”

Iverson has also clashed with local activist group ACK•Now over his support for short-term rentals, which he doesn’t believe are affecting access to affordable housing on Nantucket in the way the non-profit claims. Although the island has over 2,000 short-term rentals, Iverson thinks they do not yet pose a serious problem to island residents looking to buy a home.

“There’s a lot of false narratives flying around, a lot of talking points that are not based in facts,” he said, accusing ACK•Now of pushing an elitist, inflammatory agenda.

However, Iverson acknowledged that there is a “distinct possibility” short-term rentals could “decimate” the island’s housing stock in the future and warned that “we need to protect the local neighborhoods from being gentrified.”

“The most important thing when it comes to [short-term rentals] is how do we protect local neighborhoods from being bought up by off-island interest and turned into short-term rentals,” he said.

On policy issues not related to housing, Iverson is more equivocal. He supports renewable energy but isn’t sure what he thinks about offshore wind and emphasized that the public doesn’t have enough information to judge a town search committee’s controversial decision not to select Deputy Fire Sean Mitchell as a finalist for the position of Nantucket Fire Chief.

“I’m hoping to quell the mob mentality surrounding these things. I think, again, it’s tough for anyone to judge because there’s a certain amount of negotiation that goes on behind closed doors,” he said of the town’s decision. “I don’t think the general public has a clear picture of what’s going on...but for me, it’s important to try to hire from within and if that person is not fully qualified, we need to take a careful look and see if it can be an on-the-job training kind of situation.”

The Select Board election will be held on November 8th, in conjunction with Massachusetts’ statewide elections and the federal midterms. The other two candidates who have declared their intent to run are planning board alternate Carl Borchert and former Nantucket Finance Department operations manager Kathy Richen.

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