This Tuesday, February 26 is Election Day in Vero Beach. If you thought the City Council election was last November, it wasn’t. The election had to be rescheduled for a number of reasons, but whatever the reasons, it is still a most important election and you should take the time to go vote. Here is why:
All through 2018 the three person City Council majority of Harry Howle, Val Zudans and Lange Sykes approved or tried to approve a number of decisions that were hugely unpopular with many voters. They included attempting to lease the public River House to a brewery, selling the profitable downtown post office property, attempting to sell the open space Dodgertown Golf Course property to a commercial developer and lease the publicly owned City Marina to an outside management/development company, among other actions.
Last November, three seats on the City Council were open in what was expected to be a hotly contested election. Lange Sykes had announced he would not run for re-election, but Council members Tony Young and Laura Moss, both of whom had voted against the three person majority on all their controversial decisions, were running for re-election. A total of four candidates had filed to run for the three open seats, Young and Moss, as well as perennial candidate Brian Heady and newcomer Linda Hillman. All four candidates were considered likely to oppose the unpopular actions of Howle and Zudans.
Then on the last day of the qualifying period (September 7), two political newcomers announced their candidacy, Robert Brackett and Robert McCabe. Two days later, candidates Hillman and Heady were suddenly disqualified. Without getting into detail, they were later re-qualified. Now there were six candidates running for the three open seats. A special election was scheduled because these actions against Hillman and Heady – disqualification, then re-qualification – were not settled in time for the November 6 election date. Hence we are holding the City Council election this coming Tuesday, February 26.
Here is a brief look at the candidates based on the order they appear on Tuesday’s ballot:
Robert McCabe – A political and Vero newcomer, retiree, currently serving as president of the Vero Beach Chamber of Commerce (not to be confused with the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce). His views regarding last year’s controversies are not well known at this time.
Linda Hillman – Another political newcomer, long time resident, retiree, and a strong voice in the community opposed to Council’s actions in 2018. She filed suit against the City when suddenly disqualified in September and ultimately regained her place on the ballot.
Robert Brackett – Also a political newcomer, lifelong Vero resident from a philanthropic family, real estate developer and businessman. His views are not widely known at this time.
Colonel Tony Young – Also a Vero Beach native, and military retiree (whose grandfather was the very first mayor of Vero 100 years ago). Young is an incumbent and has popular support among voters due to his actions opposing the three-man majority during 2018.
Brian Heady – A long time Vero resident, retiree and political activist who has run for office numerous times (was elected once), known for his controversial appearances before City Council. He was disqualified along with Hillman, but re-qualified for this special election.
Laura Moss – An incumbent, moved here as a retiree, she has voted with Young on most issues, but in recent Council meetings has openly opposed Linda Hillman, a competitor this election.