Election costs Vero Beach an experienced, thoughtful leader

Incumbent Randy Old loses by 48 votes to Shores-FPL backed Lange Sykes – Vero Beach denied valuable leadership

COMMENTARY

“…In addressing all of these issues and more, Old is by far more qualified than Sykes, and yet Vero Beach is now denied Old’s almost irreplaceable leadership, and all for the selfish benefit of the Shores and FPL.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Randy Old
Randy Old

When the votes were counted Tuesday evening, one of the most experienced, open-minded, considerate, forward-thinking leaders to serve on the Vero Beach City Council in recent memory fell just 48 votes short of re-election. Though he was endorsed by the Press Journal editorial board, and had received nearly twice as much in campaign contributions as any of the other five candidates, Randy Old’s impressive and extensive credentials, experience, and reputation were not enough to overcome what amounted to a character assignation carried out by a political action committee funded by a few dozen John’s Island residents and Florida Power and Light.

In explaining why he would not support selling Vero Electric’s Shores customers for less than $47 million, Old wrote, “Recently Indian River Shores and Florida Power and Light asked Vero’s City Council to sell the Indian River Shores portion of Vero Electric to Florida Power and Light for $30 million. Vero’s utility and legal team advised that a sale price of $47 million would be required so that the sale did not have a negative consequence of the remaining ratepayers. I was one of the three City Council members who voted to counter with a $47 million offer to FPL. In view of the comprehensive advice of our experts, we felt it was our fiduciary duty to vote against any lower offer.”

Having now successfully bought City Council seats for Laura Moss and Sykes, the Shores and FPL can count on their new council members to join Harry Howle in supporting a sale of Vero Electric’s Shores customer base to FPL for $17 million less than a team of five independent utility experts concluded would be necessary to prevent the move from causing higher rates for the remaining customers. This short-term benefit to the Shores and FPL pales in comparison to the price Vero Beach residents will pay over time for the loss of Old’s leadership on the Council.

Absorbed as they are in privilege and shameful self-centeredness, Shores leaders used their considerable wealth to make Vero Beach’s municipal election all about what they want.  Beyond finding a way for some of Florida’s wealthiest residents to pay the lowest electric rates in the state, there are, of course, other issues facing the City of Vero Beach, including developing a plan to pay for the City’s effort in addressing the Lagoon crisis, shoring up the City’s pension funds, addressing infrastructure needs, planning for the eventual redevelopment of the waterfront, and providing for a future that includes an exceptional quality of life. In addressing all of these issues and more, Old is by far more qualified than Sykes, and yet Vero Beach is now denied Old’s almost irreplaceable leadership, and all for the selfish benefit of the Shores and FPL.

Just two months ago, Sykes lost a Republican primary race for a seat in the Florida House. By many accounts, he ran perhaps the nastiest, most mean-spirited campaign any can remember. Voters rejected Sykes because he is inexperienced, and does not even know what he does not know, which is the most dangerous, destructive kind of ignorance. He is shallow, and without vision, but in much need of a title and recognition. Well, now he has both. Let’s see what he can do.

The one positive in this race, was the election of Col. Tony Young. He will join Councilman Richard Winger in providing Howle, Moss, and Sykes with adult supervision. However, as anyone who has raised teenagers knows, there is just so much one can do to help prevent them from making mistakes that could destroy their lives, or, in this case, the future of their community.

It is hard to overstate the value of Old’s contribution to Vero Beach over the past two years, and it is harder still to contemplate the consequences of his being replaced by someone so patently shallow and unqualified as Sykes.

Below is a “Scorecard” TCPalm.com published along with its endorsement of Old. Only on the Lagoon and environmental policy did Sykes score better than Old; and that is ironic, given that Sykes has no earthly idea how to finance efforts to protect the Lagoon.

Basing its endorsement on interviews, answers to a questionnaire and the candidates' records, the TCPalm-Palm Press Journal editorial board recommended Vero Beach voters re-elect Councilman Randy Old. As when he challenged three other candidates just a few months earlier in a bid for a seat in the Florida House, the newspaper's editorial board saw little merit in the candidacy of Lange Sykes.
Basing its endorsement on interviews, answers to a questionnaire and the candidates’ records, the TCPalm-Palm Press Journal editorial board recommended Vero Beach voters re-elect Councilman Randy Old. As when he challenged three other candidates just a few months earlier in a bid for a seat in the Florida House, the newspaper’s editorial board saw little merit in the candidacy of Lange Sykes.

 

2 comments

  1. Perhaps those who paid for this election will get what they deserve……not necessarily what they want. We can only hope. Too bad we didn’t put a charge on use of the dog park by nonresidents. Thank you, Randy Old, for your service. If you are so inclined, I hope you will run again. We’ll be needing an experienced leader–several probably.

  2. People were confused and no wonder. Just picked up a copy of a magazine. The Official 2017 Vero Beach Handbook. It covered almost all of INDIAN RIVER COUNTY.

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