“Clearly they (Moss, Sykes and Wells) are single-issue candidates intent on doing the Shores’ bidding to the detriment of the people of Vero Beach. Anyone who believes they have other, broader interests, such as looking out of the City, its employees and taxpayers, is sorely mistaken.”
“With Moss, Sykes and Wells on ‘Team Shores,’ that appears to leave Gorry, Old and Young on ‘Team Vero Beach.'”
“It needs to be said, though, that many Shores residents are not necessarily Barefoot fans, have not latched on to this single issue like a dog on a bone, and may not even realize the extent to which Barefoot and his fellow Town Councilmen are willing to go to disadvantage the people of Vero Beach. Further, there are many in the Shores who do not live in John’s Island, the hotbed of so much righteous indignation and discontent. Four of five members of the Shores Town Council are John’s Island residents. It seems they agree to allow one Council member from outside JI. You might think of it as an ‘unregulated monopoly.'”
Since our reporting on Thursday’s electric issue meeting in Indian River Shores, some have asked what, exactly, Mayor Brian Barefoot said when he introduced Vero Beach City Council candidates Laura Moss, Lange Sykes and Norman Wells as part of the Shores “team.” Following is an transcript of Barefoot’s remarks.
Barefoot: “I’d like to recognize, we’ve got a lot of support from a lot of folks here. Debbie Mayfield, congratulations on winning the primary. You’ve got another step. She’s been a terrific help, and she is hopefully moving on to bigger and more powerful things in the (Florida) Senate, where I think she is going to get a lot more support than perhaps she has received in the (Florida) House on issues we care about. Everyone cares about the Lagoon. Everybody cares about the train. This electric thing is a different issue.
“We’ve got some candidates that are running for (the Vero Beach) City Council that are, quote, ‘pro sale,’ whether it’s a partial sale to the Shores, though the goal is to get the entire system sold, to get the City out of the electric business, which they have no business being in. Laura Moss, who by the way, I know you in the Shores can’t vote, but you can put in a good word for her to your friends.”
Moss: “I appreciate that. By the way, I am chairwoman of the Utilities Commission, and I have the honor and pleasure to work with your Bob Auwaerter.”
Barefoot: “Lange Sykes is also a candidate for City Council. Norman Wells, and Bob Solari we all know…Bob also has been an advocate for the sale. Dylan Reingold is the County Attorney. He has been a great help to Chester Clem, our attorney. So we’ve got a team here that from many different angles can try to keep this issue moving forward.”
Without question, Barefoot publicly named Moss, Sykes and Wells as supporting the Town Council in its contentious campaign to force Vero Beach to sell its Shores customers to Florida Power & Light at a price $17 million short of what a team of five utility experts believe the City needs to receive to keep from causing higher electric rates and higher taxes for everyone else.
Sadly, Moss, Sykes and Wells have already capitulated to Barefoot and those in the Shores who support their mayor’s dogged fixation on having his way at all cost. Are they running for the Vero Beach City Council, or for the Indian River Shores Town Council? You have to wonder. Clearly they are single-issue candidates intent on doing the Shores’ bidding to the detriment of the people of Vero Beach. Anyone who believes they have other, broader interests, such as looking out of the City, its employees and taxpayers, is sorely mistaken.
No doubt about it. In this election, Moss, Sykes and Wells make up the “Shores team.” Given the Shores’ litigation, Public Service Commission petition and likely Supreme Court appeal, Moss, Sykes and Wells might as well be running for the “Benedict Arnold Award.” (It needs to be said, though, that many Shores residents are not necessarily Barefoot fans, have not latched on to this single issue like a dog on a bone, and may not even realize the extent to which Barefoot and his fellow Town Councilmen are willing to go to disadvantage the people of Vero Beach. Further, there are many in the Shores who do not live in John’s Island, the hotbed of so much righteous indignation and discontent. Four of five members of the Shores Town Council are John’s Island residents. It seems they agree to allow one Council member from outside JI. You might think of it as an “unregulated monopoly.”)
With Moss, Sykes, and Wells on the “Shores/Barefoot team,” who, then, is prepared to serve the people of Vero Beach? It would appear Sharon Gorry, Randy Old, and Tony Young are the three candidates ready to stand up for Vero Beach, for its taxpayers, and for the customers of Vero Electric.
Gorry, Old and Young seem to understand what makes Vero Vero. In their own way, each speaks knowledgeably about protecting the community’s unique character and unparalleled quality of life, of respecting the City’s employees, while also practicing fiscal responsibility. And each expresses a desire to move Vero Beach and the larger community beyond the divisive electric issue.
This broader focus on leading the community forward does not make Gorry, Old and Young opponents of the proposed sale of Vero Electric to Florida Power & Light. In fact, these three candidates have each made it clear they believe a sale of the full system would make sense, if and when contractual issues can be resolved. What they say they are not willing to do is to disadvantage others simply to benefit Shores residents.
Unlike Moss, Sykes and Wells, Gorry, Old and Young are not promising to make a sale magically happen, when even FPL executives say they can offer no concrete suggesting for how to move forward. Further, they have not pinned all hopes for lower electric rates on the remote chance the Florida Legislature and the Florida Supreme Court will set aside long-established contract law simply to clear a path for the sale of Vero Electric.
Old, an incumbent, has worked with fellow Council members Jay Kramer and Richard Winger to successfully renegotiate the City’s wholesale power contract with the Orlando Utilities Commission. Savings from this revised agreement are expected to total more than $170 million. Some rate reductions have already resulted from that revised deal, which, amazingly, was opposed by Council members Pilar Turner and Harry Howle, and by candidates Laura Moss and Lange Sykes.
Other steps are being taken to lower electric rates still further, nearly all of them resisted by so-called “pro-sale” advocates.
Beyond the electric issue, and of significance to the future of Vero Beach, Gorry, Old and Young have demonstrated an understanding of other important issues, such as the Lagoon and infrastructure maintenance, all of which need to be addressed, and with some urgency. These three candidates are not given to bashing the City in pursuit of political gain; and, unlike Moss, Sykes and Wells, they appear knowledgable about where the City is currently well run, and where improvements can be made.
In this election, what really matters is not which candidates are “anti-sale,” or “pro-sale,” but which candidates will stand up for Vero Beach. With Moss, Sykes and Wells on “Team Shores,” that appears to leave Gorry, Old and Young on “Team Vero Beach.”