You can look at this first meeting of the newly elected Vero Beach City Council as little more than a formality or as a harbinger of things to come.
Val Zudans was elected by his fellow Council members to be Mayor; Tony Young was named Vice Mayor. The more logical choice for Mayor would have been Tony Young; he was just reelected, received the most votes, has never served as Mayor, and in Vero’s Centennial year, would have been the sentimental choice since his grandfather, A.W. Young, was the first Mayor of Vero 100 years ago.
Under public comments, Brian Heady made an articulate, reasonable case to name Tony Young as Mayor for the reasons mentioned above. But when the votes were cast, new Councilman Robbie Brackett chose Zudans, as did Howle. Moss nominated Brackett, but no one nominated Young until people in the audience urged him to nominate himself, which he did less than enthusiastically. When the final vote was tallied, Young had to stick with voting for himself although anyone who knows Tony Young, also knows he would have made the election of Zudans unanimous. He is a team player after all.
The choice of Val Zudans as Mayor is appropriate from the standpoint that he will only serve a partial year due to the special election and his term on Council ends in November. He also played a leading role this past year on many issues. Unfortunately, those same issues were wildly unpopular with the public.
For many people, the latest City Council election was a referendum on which direction that body should take in the coming year. Last year’s majority of Zudans, Howle and Sykes would not be repeated in 2019 because Sykes was not running for reelection. Of the six candidates running for three open positions, Young and Moss opposed the majority on just about everything, Hillman was also opposed to the majority and Brackett, a political newcomer with strong ties to the community, was also considered a “sure thing” to oppose what amounted to a sell-off of Vero Beach’s assets. With the election last month of Young, Moss and Brackett, many felt the majority would now oppose further dismantling of Vero.
The initial meeting held this morning could have been interpreted as an attempt by Council to move forward with a united front. However, selecting Zudans as their leader could signal something else. We will know more about that “something else” when City Council holds its first regular meeting tomorrow at five o’clock.