Should City Council have voted down a special election?

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

October 3 City Council meeting.

In a marathon City Council meeting covering three hot button topics, little was accomplished. The sale of Dodgertown golf course was postponed indefinitely, a decision on solving the beachside parking issue was postponed for further study and a special election was vetoed by a 4-1 vote.

The last decision meant that Linda Hillman and Brian Heady would not be reinstated as candidates after all and the election would proceed on schedule, slated for November 6, pending litigation.  Councilman Laura Moss read the City statutes, which places all responsibility for any incomplete paperwork on the candidate, even though the City Clerk affirmed that the paperwork was complete. The candidates did not learn they were disqualified until one working day after the deadline for filing.

But someone knew they would be disqualified. Both candidates, Hillman and Heady, claim that while they are responsible for the completion of their paperwork, they have no control over what happens with that paperwork once they hand it in. Anyone with access to City offices has access to that paperwork because there is no secure system in place to protect it. The reason it isn’t secure is because that has never been an issue until now.

With what appears to be a majority of Vero citizens feeling their city is being sold out from under them, this election was the first opportunity to unseat one of the three-man majority (Lange Sykes decided not to seek reelection.) and bring in a candidate more sympathetic to citizen wishes. That candidate was to be Linda Hillman, a political newcomer.

When City Council discussed this situation last night most people were probably in bed or on the way there. Councilman Laura Moss also read from a transcript of last week’s Canvassing Board meeting. But she only read sections relating to the candidate’s responsibility for ensuring the paperwork was complete. She did not read any of the transcript that led to that Board’s unanimous decision to reinstate Hillman and Heady.

It is also relevant to consider Moss was competing against Hillman and Heady to retain her seat. It would possibly be in her best interest to eliminate Hillman as a competitor. On the other hand, if both were elected, they may well have worked in tandem to reverse direction away from the current Board majority. Meanwhile, Councilmen Zudans and Howle will be looking to maintain their hold on decision making. Neither Hillman nor Heady would fit that role. Councilman Sykes is not seeking reelection; however, he is that critical third vote in the current majority and could be looking to help his compatriots maintain power.

So the final vote was 4-1 against holding a special election. Tony Young was the only candidate in favor of it.

This is the perfect Agatha Christie plot line – four out of five people with potential motives to avoid bringing Hillman and Heady back into the election race, with possibly all of them guilty or none of them. The only question is why Robert McCabe is still qualified to run having committed the same mistake that disqualified Hillman and Heady.

 

One comment

  1. I am so very sorry that the Council keeps putting meetings at weird times and crams them with too much. Maybe they can sleep late – or maybe not – but their control of their audience is blatantly obvious. We had to get up at 5am to go to WPB for doctor appointments this morning. This is a page in Vero’s history I don’t wish to recall. Alma Lee Loy and so many others were on hand and I guess we felt good about the Dodgertown decision – though we realize it hasn’t gone away. I agree with Mr. Thomas about the potential for a TV or movie drama – or 48 Hours.

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