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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Indian River County

Three Sebastian council seats, five candidates
Rating: 1.59 / 5 (22 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Sep 27 - 06:42

By Jessica Creagan

jcreagan@hometownnewsol.com

SEBASTIAN -- On Nov. 5, three Sebastian City Council seats will be up for grabs and five candidates are in the race.

All three incumbents, Mayor Bob McPartlan, Vice Mayor Don Wright and Councilwoman Andrea Coy, are returning for another go-around on the council, and are joined on the election ballot by Richard Gillmor, former Sebastian mayor and councilman, and Damien Gilliams, a businessman and frequent council critic.

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 received a questionnaire and their responses are included below in no particular order.

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

Name: Richard H. Gillmor

Contact information: Phone: (772) 228- 9066; e-mail: rhgillmor@gmail.com

Family: Married to Judy for 45 years this December with two daughters and two grandchildren.

Previous public service: Elected to Sebastian City Council in 2008 and 2010, mayor for 2009 and 2010

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

A: I believe I was a very effective member of Sebastian Ciy Council and enjoyed my two terms on the board. Had I not run for Congress last year, I would have run again for city council. As the only retired member of council I had more time to put into the duties of mayor and look forward to contributing again should I be elected this year.

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 for the Sebastian City Council to address are: No. 1, the condition of the Indian River Lagoon, and No. 2, future annexations to the city.

On the lagoon, we first need to diagnose the underlying problem with the lagoon and find out why we've lost so much seagrass. I would like to see the city put out at least two sensors to identify pollutants at outfalls and the mouth of the St. Sebastian River. Until such time as we can determine the causes of the problem, we can't fix it. Is the problem fertilizer run off, or is it related to septic tanks?

The second most important topic is future annexations to the city. Sebastian has very little commercial and industrial property left because of the county conservation area behind Sebastian City Hall. That land was originally designed to be our commercial/industrial corridor and now it's never going to be developed.

All the land south of Country Road 512 on U.S. 1 is county-owned right up until you get to Publix where Barber Street intersects. This will get developed eventually and I would like it to be in the city so we can take some of the tax pressure off our residents.

These areas will be serviced by our city whether any future taxes come to us or not. The city should be looking at future annexation of some of this property and be pro-active in working with property owners who desire to be included in our great city.

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

A: For the most part Sebastian city government has a good relationship with local business owners. Our community redevelopment agency has helped dozens of small businesses update their signs and landscaping with grants of up to 80 percent of the cost of improvements. I would like to see us host a business owners workshop once a year to get input directly from the business community as to how the city can serve them better.

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

A: For me, the city of Sebastian is the treasure in the Treasure Coast. We don't have high rise condos to block the beautiful view of the Indian River Lagoon, we don't have traffic congestion like other cities do, we have easy access to beaches, the inlet, our own municipal golf course, numerous parks and conservation areas, and four festivals a year to show it all off!

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

A: What makes me the best candidate for the job is my previous track record. As mayor, I helped secure $2 million federal dollars to pave Barber Street. I was also very active in the Treasure Coast region as president of the Treasure Coast Regional League of Cities, chairman of the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments, (A board made up from cities, counties, and school boards from four counties). I was also elected chairman of the Indian River County metropolitan planning organization. I served on the board of directors of the Florida League of Cities and for my last year was chosen to serve on their executive board.

Being retired, I was able to really work more of a full time schedule as mayor for two years and as council member for the last term.

Name: Andrea B. Coy

Contact information: Address: 501 Palm Avenue, Sebastian, Fla., 32958; phone: (772) 388-0961

Family: Donut - hound and Floyd the Boyd - parrot

Previous public office held:

Elected to Sebastian City Council, 2005-13; served as mayor from2007-09.

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

A: Sebastian residents have been encouraging me to run again throughout the past year. I enjoy what I do and I have gained a reputation for being fair and equitable during the decision making process. During these extremely tough economic times, Sebastian needs level-headed, responsible citizens at the helm. As a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant and 16-year resident of Sebastian with a master's degree in education from Penn State University, I believe I can continue to make positive and effective contributions to our community.

As mayor, I worked very hard for almost two years to bring Indian River State College to Sebastian. Last year I dedicated three months of my life to re-furbishing, furnishing, and opening the Senior Activity Center. I have established a reputation for being able to get things done and I'm not done yet.

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

A: Issue One - HEALTH OF THE LAGOON!

Our most precious resource and commodity is dying. It's not dying from natural causes, it's dying from human causes.

Nitrogen has been identified as a major cause leading to algae blooms. Two sources have been identified as problematic.

The major source is from our prolific septic systems throughout the county. To replace these antiquated systems with sewer connections and treatment is a very expensive proposition, but it must be done. We need emergency funding help from federal and state sources to get this massive process started.

Another source of nitrogen comes from fertilizer. Homeowners who apply chemicals to their lawns, whether themselves or through contracted service providers, need to look closely at what is in the application and when it is being applied. Common sense should prevail here and I believe the need for a healthy lagoon far outweighs the need for a perfect lawn.

Issue Two - Maintaining high quality levels of service to the Sebastian public has become increasingly more difficult as we have downsized during the economic crisis.

Our staff is cut to rock bottom and there is no more to cut. As we slowly climb out of this hole, we need to slowly reinstate a few of the staff positions to restore our service quality.

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

A: The city of Sebastian has an exceptional chamber of commerce with an excellent record of service to the local business community. The chamber and the city work closely on large improvement projects like the Main Street boat ramp and intersection, the Working Waterfront project, and lowering the speed limit on U.S. 1 that benefit the overall appearance of our business district.

The city also partners with the chamber to provide concerts in the park.

Sebastian also has an excellent fašade, sign and landscape program that has helped numerous new and existing businesses improve their look with grant money from the city.

Our community development director, Joe Griffin, and his staff are very responsive to business requests as they seek solutions to every day issues and needs.

All in all, Sebastian has a great relationship with local businesses, but we are always looking for ways to improve our service - ideas welcome.

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

A: Sebastian truly is a special place on the Treasure Coast. We have worked very hard to maintain the quaint fishing village look and feel. One would never guess that we are the largest municipality in Indian River County.

Much of our charm is evident in Riverview Park and the riverfront area. Building height limits adjacent to the lagoon are restricted to 25 feet. We enjoy our waterfront and want to be able to see it.

Elsewhere in Sebastian, building height is limited to 35 feet. Having no high rises blocking the view, helps preserve the small-town village look.

An equally important Sebastian asset is our residents and business owners. I have never met more open-hearted and giving people anywhere. When something needs to be done, we don't wait for outside help. Our local residents, businesses, and non-profits will rally to fill the need. The senior center is a classic example.

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

A: Over the past eight years of service to the community, I have reached out and participated in a wide-variety of groups and organizations.

I currently belong to seven local non-profit organizations:- Sebastian Lion's Club, Sebastian GFWC Juniors, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #10210, American Legion Post #189, Sebastian Property Owners Association, Senior Activity Center, and the North County Hunger Relief Coalition.

This past year I raised more than $12,000 in donations for our local non-profits.

I am easily accessible by phone- 388-0961 - and will return calls and emails. Many folks know who I am and feel comfortable approaching me while out-and-about with their issues. My supporters know that a vote for Andrea B. Coy is a vote for leadership and integrity they can trust.

Name: Don Wright

Contact information: Phone, (772) 913-4720

Family: Married 45 years to spouse Beverly, children and grandchildren

Previous public office held: currently vice mayor of Sebastian; finishing my second term in office.

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

A: We have had four years of declining revenue. Looking forward, we will need to determine different ways to allocate hopefully an increased amount of revenue.

This will need to be used to make up for items that have been deferred and postponed and spending will need to still be limited to what is needed.

So, continuing to focus on budgeting and spending is my first priority and secondly, the Indian River lagoon is in trouble and Sebastian needs to work on areas important to the city.

This can be divided up into four areas including research, remediation, restoration and regulation. I would like to have workshops and forums in Sebastian to develop a consensus for moving forward.

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

A: No. 1: Our computer system has become obsolete. Major funding is needed to fix this problem and initial estimates are more than $250,000. I am closely watching this process and want to make certain that the fix will serve the city both immediately and long term. No. 2. The problems with the Indian River Lagoon need to be addressed as the lagoon is a key element on the quality of life and economic growth in Sebastian.

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

A: The city generally works well with business owners and has completed major projects including improvements to the community redevelopment agency district and U.S. 1.

Also, we are in process of having the speed limit on U.S. 1 reduced to 35 miles per hour which should improve accessibility, visibility and safety for customers and business owners. And, we are about to start significant improvements to the "presidential" streets in the community redevelopment agency district which will provide more parking and smooth surfaces and improve drainage.

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

A: No. 1: The city's location on the Indian River Lagoon; No. 2: The working waterfront and commercial fishing; No. 3, Our entertainment and dining areas on or near the lagoon; No. 4. Two boat ramps which provide adequate parking for easy access to the Lagoon and Ocean; No. 5: Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge; No. 6: The Sebastian Inlet being so close; No. 7: The large amount of conservation and park space; No. 8: The residential single-family dwelling nature of our community; No. 9: Special events and community spirit.

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

A: Background as a two term council member but before being elected, many years of serving as a volunteer on committees including as chairman of the parks and recreation committee, chairman of the North County economic development committee, serving as a director of the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, representing the city on the metropolitan planning organization citizens advisory committee, serving on the county economic development committee, and having been a member of the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce while working in Vero Beach.

These and other volunteer efforts were over a six-year period before I first ran for office. My business background as a business owner, president of a large insurance brokerage firm , middle management positions with a large insurance company over a career of 45 years have provided me with the background and experience to use some private business techniques to assist the city in budgeting, planning, management structure, resource allocation and problem solving.

Name: Bob McPartlan

Contact information: Phone: (772) 205-5490, email: Bob@votemcpartlan.com

Family: Wife, Aimee, five children ages 3 to 14.

Previous public office held:

Elected to Sebastian City Council 2011, elected by peers to be Sebastian mayor in 2012.

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

A: The honor of continuing to serve the citizens of Sebastian. The current council is a terrific group of individuals who collectively function very well.

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

A: Ensuring that Sebastian continues doing all it can responsibly do using scientific data to protect our Indian River Lagoon.

Encouraging businesses and homes along the riverfront to connect to existing sewer lines through our grant program as well as work with Indian River County to extend sewer throughout our riverfront district.

Keeping Sebastian taxes low while maintaining the quality of life and level of service that we are accustomed to.

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

A: Interaction with our business community has improved over the last few years. We have created the position of economic development coordinator who is in place to work with the business community in dealing with rules and regulations within the city. We also work closely with the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, listening to and reacting to their concerns. Sebastian has truly become a "Business Friendly" community, however, we are always open to suggestions that would make it easier to be successful owning a business here.

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

A: One is definitely the people. We have the friendliest and I believe the most caring citizens in Florida. All you need to do to experience this is take a walk along our scenic riverfront or visit one of our many outstanding parks in the city. These are what make Sebastian such a special place to live.

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

A: Preparation and foresight.

My background is in child abuse investigations. As a result, you can rest assure that I will do all the homework involving any issue to include researching both sides of any argument to come to the best resolution for the citizens of Sebastian.

I will also be thinking about what could possibly go wrong with any decision and ensuring that all bases are covered.

Biography: I was born in Brooklyn, New York where faith, family and a commitment to service were instilled in me at an early age by my parents.

At 18, I enlisted in the U.S. Army where I served as an explosive ordnance disposal technician, rising to the rank of Sergeant. After the army I graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a bachelor's degree in political science and English.

I remained in the Army Reserves for several years and was activated for Operation Desert Storm. For the next decade, I worked in several different capacities which, along with my training in the Army, helped me develop a unique set of leadership and professional skills.

In 2001, I began a career with the Florida Department of Children and Families. I started as a child protective investigator and quickly rose through the ranks becoming a supervisor at the Child Advocacy Center in Brevard County.

In July 2008 I was promoted to program administrator for all Child Protective Investigations for Circuit 19; encompassing Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee Counties. In April 2013 I was promoted to DCF community development administrator for Circuit 19.

I serve on many boards throughout the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee. He has been selected as the chair for the Indian River County Metropolitan Planning Organization for the last two years. In 2010 I was selected to serve on Sebastian's Charter Review Committee.

I serve on the Indian River County executive roundtable, the Children's Services advisory committee, the Senior Resource Association's Senior Needs Assessment for Indian River County as well as the Okeechobee executive roundtable and the Martin County Needs Assessment.

While on the Council, I have continued to advocate for domestic violence awareness as well as foster care, adoption, and the Guardian Ad Litem program.

Name: Damien Herman Gilliams

Contact information: Phone, (772) 713-5071, email, Damio@comcast.net, website, www.DamienLovesSebastian.com, and www.OSCS-CAP.com.

Family: Married with three children, two in college

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 am running again for the Sebastian City Council, after three previously unsuccessful attempts, primarily because Sebastian desperately needs new leadership now during these uncertain and crucial times, not more lip service and cronyism from our current good old boy and girl city council members.

Whatever happened to true public service? And why do politicians, especially local office seekers, rush to throw their hats in the ring at every opportunity? It shouldn't be for power, prestige and personal enrichment.

And how long should it take an informed electorate to finally realize the absolute absurdity and futility of allowing their elected officials to continue to do the same idiotic, harebrained, costly and self-serving things year after year and expect a different result each time?

Most continue to weasel their way onto the dais through fear-mongering and character assassination tactics aimed at me and orchestrated by support organizations like Sebastian Citizens Speak Out, the Sebastian Property Owners Association and the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, among others.

I challenge any or all of them to refute my fact-based allegations of rampant special-interest agendas and self-serving boondoggles on the part of council members and the city manager, as well as blatant incompetence, misfeasance and possible malfeasance on the part of some.

When seated on the dais, I will be the voice of the people and insist on full disclosure and total transparency, like putting the city's checkbook on the internet so everyone can see where the taxpayer's money is being spent. Government in the sunshine at all times.

Are you better off today than you were last year, or two years ago, or ten years back? I certainly think not and we can begin to change that for the better with my election!

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

A: Take your pick! My platform is straightforward and has 10 fundamental common sense planks:

No. 1: Providing unbiased and forthright public service at a bare minimum (*) or no cost to the taxpayers

No. 2: Perpetual stewardship in preserving and protecting our little slice of paradise here in Sebastian

No. 3: Truly representative government where every responsible voice is heard, considered and valued

No. 4: Maximum public safety and security, 365 days a year and 24 hours a day, without exception

No. 5: Protecting our fragile environment/ecosystem to ensure the best possible quality of life for all

No. 6: Maintaining the lowest tax rate feasible while providing the highest public services possible

No. 7: Not just maintaining, but continually upgrading our infrastructure, parks and other public places

No. 8: Developing all of our economic possibilities and creating outstanding employment opportunities

No. 9: Continually promoting the unsurpassed beauty, tranquility and majesty of Sebastian to the world

No. 10: Ensuring that we can pass on to our children a more precious legacy than we were entrusted with

*) If elected, I would advocate that city council members receive no guaranteed monthly stipend, but just reimbursement for actual documented expenses incurred in the discharge of their official responsibilities.

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

A: Previous city councils have consistently gone out of their way to hinder local business interests instead of working with them to create a strong and healthy business environment that would help stimulate our economy and create good paying employment opportunities for young and old alike.

There are numerous positive things that could be done immediately to retain or attract businesses to the Sebastian area, such as:

-Reviewing and revising our land development code and eliminating nonessential requirements and restrictions that inhibit and/or discourage business development

-Reducing business fees wherever and whenever possible and shortening application-to-permit processing times that will facilitate quicker implementation for existing businesses and accelerated start-up times for new businesses

-Improving downtown and adjacent parking all along U.S. 1 and Indian River Drive from city limit to city limit

-Placing a very high priority on the maintenance of roads and ensuring proper drainage throughout the city

-Developing a plan in conjunction with private property owners, business interests and the board of Realtors, to reverse the trend of diminishing property values

-Showcasing Sebastian as a great place to live and work and not just a fun place to visit because of our positioning on the Indian River Lagoon and our access to the Sebastian Inlet

-Marketing the quality of our A-rated public and charter schools and nearby universities with their strong emphasis on mathematics, science and engineering, plus Chinese language and biotechnical curriculums; our rapidly developing airport; our municipal golf course; our wonderful neighborhood parks and recreational facilities; the abundance of both very affordable and estate type housing; our strategic location just off I-95 in central Florida and our proximity to the Research Coast, the Space Coast and international airports in nearby West Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville; and our excellent overall safety, security and quality of life.

- Assigning the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce them a regular item number on the agenda for the City Council meetings and asking them to give a report on their activities in promoting Sebastian would be useful

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

A: I believe everything about Sebastian is unique and special and should be considered a treasure to each and every one of us who is blessed to have the privilege to reside here, and it can only get better with proper selfless city council leadership.

It will never be simply about me, but always about what is best for all of us.

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

A: I honestly believe that I am the best qualified candidate for the job. I am thoroughly familiar with all of the departments and the operations of the City of Sebastian having spent well over ten years attending meetings and workshops and serving in many different capacities, including former chairman of the Sebastian code enforcement board, former community redevelopment association board member, former member of waterfront study committee.

I have a wealth of valuable knowledge that was painstakingly and meticulously acquired over the past decade.

I know all of the players, the essential inner workings of our city government, the systems that are in place and the appropriate procedures that always need to be followed. By diligently working together for the common good, great things can be accomplished.

Once elected, I can be effective immediately and I am ready, willing and able to accept this responsibility and be of valuable service to my community as it charts its course for the benefit of the present and all future generations.

When on the dais, I will work hard to build a consensus and help create a level playing field where the same rules apply to everyone in our community. civility, comity and mutual respect will always be the hallmark of my public service, but achieving positive results for the citizens of Sebastian will be my constant objective.




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