By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN - Four candidates are competing for two seats on Sebastian City Council.
Jim Hill, current mayor of Sebastian, is in the race along with first-time candidates Tim Slaven and Jerome Adams and businessman, Damien Gilliams.
Mr. Slaven and Mayor Hill are featured in this article.
Tim Slaven is a first-time candidate and Department of Children and Families employee. He has lived in Sebastian for close to seven years and was attracted to the area because of the small, hometown feel and natural beauty, he said.
Preserving that quality of life and environment is important to Mr. Slaven, but he isn't all talk and pipe dreams.
While he hasn't served in an elected position before, Mr. Slaven was on the city budget advisory committee last year and is very familiar with the numbers and the city budget.
His analysis of the budget is that all the cuts that have been made were the ones that could be made.
"We went over that with a fine-tooth comb," Mr. Slaven said.
Should he be elected, he would continue to study the budget with city staff to see what else can be done to cut down on costs as the year progresses, but also make sure the money that is available is spent wisely.
Areas he would like to see the council address include the business corridor on County Road 512, ensuring it has what it needs to prosper and flourish.
Bringing in jobs, or a focus on economic development, will help improve Sebastian's quality of life and make for a happier and healthier community, Mr. Slaven said.
Mayor Jim Hill believes the downward spiral of the economy is slowing and financially the community is close to the basement and the council as a whole has been successful in maintaining city services at an expected level and have kept taxes down.
"I have a tremendous amount of experience on Sebastian City Council and working with neighboring communities in Indian River County," Mayor Hill said.
Reducing spending, consolidating departments, shrinking staff and implementing furlough days have put the city in a good place, Mayor Hill said.
"I think we're in a pretty good place, finding the balance for the leanest government and high quality of life," he said.
In the early 2000s, the city drainage system was the primary topic of conversation, but now it's rarely spoken of because the city was able to improve the system and all but eliminate flooding issues, Mayor Hill said.
Earlier this year, a tremendous rain event unrelated to a hurricane caused flooding in Vero Beach and various places in unincorporated county lands and made the news, but there was no mention of Sebastian at all, he said.
"Sebastian didn't have a flooding problem. What we're doing in regard to drainage is proving beneficial," Mayor Hill said.
Budget issues will always be around and people will be divided on what to spend money on, but Mayor Hill said he stands by the council's decision for the betterment of the city.
"We hadn't raised our (storm water) rates in 11 years and now we've adjusted that rate $1 per month. These are things that are not easy to do to generate revenue, but necessary to improve the city," Mayor Hill said.
The working waterfront project, an area the council has high hopes for bringing in traffic and revenue to the area, is on point and moving forward, he said.
The first part of the project, renovations to the former Hurricane Harbor site and opening a fish market and the opening and closing of a restaurant, came about so quickly it seems like the rest of the project is dragging.
Turning the blighted area into a productive and vibrant area is worth the time and money spent on it, Mayor Hill said.
"The last thing they need to do is scuttle the project," Mayor Hill said.
Hometown News is attempting to contact all candidates for Sebastian City Council for a profile.
To see more candidate profiles, read Hometown News or search online at www.myhometownnews.net.