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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Indian River County

Incumbents, challengers face off for Vero Beach city council seats
Rating: 3.67 / 5 (12 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Sep 27 - 06:41

By Jessica Creagan

jcreagan@hometownnewsol.com

VERO BEACH -- On Nov. 5, six candidates will vie for two Vero Beach City Council seats during the general election.

Both incumbents, Vice Mayor Tracy Carroll and Councilman Dick Winger, are trying to retain their seats for another term. They are joined in the race by Warren Winchester, former Vero Beach councilman and mayor, Brian Heady, former city councilman, and political newcomers Amelia Graves and Joseph Guffanti.

There will be no early voting opportunities this election cycle. Precinct locations will be listed on the Indian River County Supervisor of Elections website.

Each candidate was contacted and asked to participate in a questionnaire and their responses are included below in no particular order. Attempts to reach Mrs. Carroll went unanswered.

Hometown News does not endorse candidates for political office, but instead, provides information about each candidate for voters to make an educated decision.

Name: Warren Winchester

Contact information: Did not answer

Family: Did not answer

Previous public office held: Former Vero Beach mayor and city councilman

Q: What were some of the deciding factors in choosing to run for a seat on the city council this election cycle?

A: I want to ensure that the sale of the power system is in the long-range best interest of the city. I'd like to see a proforma on a budget without the electric contribution in order to understand better the financial impact on the taxpayer.

Q: What are two top issues you feel the city council should address with urgency? How would you handle them?

A: The two top issues are the power system sale and the fiscal year 2014 budget. I'd want several briefings on the Florida Power & Light deal in order to decide if it is good for the city taxpayers.

Q: How would you describe Vero Beach's interaction with local business owners? Is there anything you would improve?

A: We have very good relations with most businessmen. The city sponsors many events at both down town and beachside which draw in lots of customers. The interplay is very good.

Q: Vero Beach is part of the Treasure Coast region. What are some "treasures" in Vero Beach that make it unique and special to you?

A: Our ability to keep and enhance the old such as the Heritage Center, Waldo's heritage and to the fact that we don't have overbuilt sky scrapers. Low density/low rise is a characteristic we should stick to.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: My experience as a council member and mayor, and my involvement in the many boards and commissions of the city.

Name: Amelia Graves

Contact information: Phone: (772) 205-3663, email: amelia.graves@outlook.com, website: www.voteameliagraves.com .

Family: Fifth generation Vero Beach resident; mother, Judy Graves, sister, Toccoa Graves and brother, Keith Ketchens

Previous public office held: None

Q: What were some of the deciding factors in choosing to run for a seat on the city council this election cycle?

A: I want to conserve Vero's unique heritage and stand up for our community values.

Lately, certain members of city council have not been good stewards of the legacy that they have been entrusted to protect. This is a wonderful city and there is no reason is shouldn't remain that way.

It is incumbent upon the city council to serve in the best interest of the city of Vero Beach.

Q: What are two top issues you feel the city council should address with urgency? How would you handle them?

A: There are a lot of issues the city council needs to be addressing, none of which will wait for the others to be solved.

The Police Department is one. We must work to retain the wonderful men and women who risk their lives to serving the residents of Vero Beach. As a community we must decide together what we value and work to maintain that institution.

Furthermore, we must look at the unintended consequences of using tax dollars for private contractors. City tax dollars should not be leaving to be spent in other towns and counties. Our tax dollars should stay local, and be spent local.

Also, one of the biggest issues that must be addressed from multiple angles is the Indian River Lagoon. It is a huge economic driver of Vero Beach. The city should not hesitate in moving over to the county's fertilizer ordinance. It provides continuity for landscape businesses and is one immediate step we can take as a community to lessen our impact on the lagoon. There is no "one magic bullet" solution to the lagoon, but this is the first of many steps the city can take towards stopping further degradation of our river.

Q: How would you describe Vero Beach's interaction with local business owners? Is there anything you would improve?

A: I think the city of Vero Beach takes great pride in the quality of our locally owned businesses.

With the creation of business improvement districts the city can help support growth and development of areas of commerce around the city. Just look at the wonderful businesses established throughout Vero, from Ocean Drive to Historic Downtown.

Promoting local buying initiatives can keep our businesses thriving.

Q: Vero Beach is part of the Treasure Coast region. What are some "treasures" in Vero Beach that make it unique and special to you?

A: This is a really hard question to answer in the allotted space - I could go on forever, seriously. However, there are some unique "treasures" at risk in our city.

Neither Memorial Island, one of the greatest tributes to veterans on the East Coast, or Crestlawn Cemetery, where so many of the city's founders and our loved ones are buried, are in the city charter.

One of my first acts as a council member would be to move for a charter amendment that these "treasures," along with our city dog park, be included in our city charter to protect and honor our heritage.

Name: Joseph "Buzzie" Guffanti

Contact information: Did not answer

Family: Did not answer

Previous public office held: None

Q: What were some of the deciding factors in choosing to run for a seat on the city council this election cycle?

A: For more than 20 years, it's been a tradition for city councils to ignore the best interests of the public. Despite hopes for change, I've been constantly disappointed.

I believe I have the ability to effect change.

Q: What are two top issues you feel the city council should address with urgency? How would you handle them?

A: The top issue is the poor financial condition of the city. All else is a derivative of that. A liberal application of thriftiness is the only way to end the flamboyant and extravagant expenditure of the taxpayers' dollars.

Q: How would you describe Vero Beach's interaction with local business owners? Is there anything you would improve?

A: The business and commercial property owners are those most capable of rating how the city has helped them. They pay taxes and must have a voice in how their contribution is spent. I most certainly will sincerely listen to their ideas and input.

Q: Vero Beach is part of the Treasure Coast region. What are some "treasures" in Vero Beach that make it unique and special to you?

A: The weather, the Atlantic Ocean, and the quiet nature of the community.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I will bring honesty, integrity, openness, and common sense to the council. My effort to involve the public into the governmental process will be most formidable.

Name: Brian Heady

Contact information: Did not answer

Family: No family member in political race, nor are they a public employee.

Previous public office held: Vero Beach city councilman from 2009-11

Q: What were some of the deciding factors in choosing to run for a seat on the city council this election cycle?

A: Wasteful spending of the current city council. Hostile attitude by some toward public.

Q: What are two top issues you feel the city council should address with urgency? How would you handle them?

A: Abuse of power by council members and the sale of the electric utility. I would censure council members who are abusive and finalize the electric issue.

Q: How would you describe Vero Beach's interaction with local business owners? Is there anything you would improve?

A: I am not a business owner so I have no firsthand knowledge but I am not hearing wonderful things. Is there anything I would change? Of course. Government should be friendly not hostile to citizens and businesses.

Q: Vero Beach is part of the Treasure Coast region. What are some "treasures" in Vero Beach that make it unique and special to you?

A: It's a small town; compact, little traffic backup, with clean beaches, clean parks and clean streets.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: The ability and willingness to spend the time to do the job. I have no special interest conflicts.

Name: Dick Winger

Contact information: Phone: (772) 231-4445; email: dickwinger@live.com; website: www.dickwingerforcitycouncil.com

Family: Happily married, with four sons and seven grandchildren.

Previous public office held: Serving on the Vero Beach City Council since 2011, previously vice chairman of the Vero Beach Finance Commission

Q: What were some of the deciding factors in choosing to run for a seat on the city council this election cycle?

A: To "Keep Our Vero, Vero." Where the best of old Florida is nurtured, filled with community pride, but not boastful or arrogant, with well-kept private property and public land, where people work together on issues. A place that embraces a respect for the natural environment and its history, that does not succumb to trends, but establishes its own image and where you can fall in love on your first visit and ultimately make your home.

Q: What are two top issues you feel the city council should address with urgency? How would you handle them?

A: No. 1, to "Keep Our Vero, Vero," see above answer.

No. 2, to complete the sale of the electric utility sooner, rather than later.

The attorneys are costing ratepayer's nearly $100,000 per month and rate payers are paying about $2 million per month for power than they would if they receive competitive power costs.

I will continue to push both in public comment and behind the scenes for a resolution rather than accept inaction.

Q: How would you describe Vero Beach's interaction with local business owners? Is there anything you would improve?

A: I voted to maintain our contribution and interaction with Main Street Vero Beach. Our interaction with the beachside business community is excellent.

I do think we must not allow transient rentals in residential neighborhoods to drain business from our hotels and motels.

Q: Vero Beach is part of the Treasure Coast region. What are some "treasures" in Vero Beach that make it unique and special to you?

A: There are three things that are wonderful: our beaches, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon on which I spend a lot of time. And the "jewel" of the Treasure Coast, which is the city of Vero Beach.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: Long experience in complex business situations; in-depth knowledge of the city of Vero Beach and its enterprises--including the electric utility and the effort to sell it; a commitment to conduct city business in a civil manner, and do what the people want.

An example of this doing what the people want was opting out of 7/50.




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