By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH - Three seats are up for grabs on the Vero Beach City Council and seven candidates, Nick Thomas, Dan Stump, Karen Kozdra and Brian Heady make up the list of challengers looking to unseat incumbents Councilman Jay Kramer, Vice Mayor Craig Fletcher and Mayor Pilar Turner.
Mr. Thomas and Mr. Stump are featured in this article.
Mr. Stump has lived in Vero Beach for about seven years and resigned from the board of the Indian River County Taxpayers Association in order to run for Vero Beach City Council.
The sale of the electric utility is a big issue in Vero Beach right now, but so is the issue of maintaining essential services and keeping up the quality of life, Mr. Stump said.
"We're going to have to do an evaluation of essential services based on the revenue shortfall there will be," said Mr. Stump.
Selling the electric utility to Florida Power & Light will leave the city with a budget deficit because there will no longer be a transfer of funds from the electric fund to the general fund.
At the same time, FP&L will take some employees and their benefit responsibilities, saving the city some funds, he said.
Mr. Stump firmly believes selling the utility is the way to go for ratepayers, especially business owners.
If elected to council, Mr. Stump would like to lead the way in fiscal responsibility.
It's easy to spend public money, but members of council need to remember they need to be accountable to the taxpayers for how that money is spent, Mr. Stump said.
"I think the completion of the sale is a good start. Then I think the workforce, the number of employees the city has, needs to be addressed," he said.
Mr. Stump has a law practice in Vero Beach.
Mr. Thomas is an attorney in Vero Beach and this is his second time running for public office.
Earlier this year, Mr. Thomas ran for a seat on the county commission, but lost to the incumbent.
His theme in the campaign is preserve and progress.
"I grew up in Vero Beach and I love it here. My goal is to keep Vero Beach foundationally the same," Mr. Thomas said.
He is personally opposed to the sale of the electric utility, but is in favor of the city putting the issue to the voters in the form of a referendum, and if the voters want it, then he would work to that end, should he be elected.
The current negotiations with FP&L have led the public to believe that their rates will always be the lowest, but the truth is, FP&L cannot promise that, Mr. Thomas said.
They have already approached the public service commission about a rate increase, and the cost of fuel always changes, so no rates are ever guaranteed, he said.
Mr. Thomas is concerned this sale will cost Vero Beach its very existence, taxes will go up and services will go down, which he doesn't want to see.
He is also very interested in finding ways to preserve the Indian River Lagoon and improve its health. Finding a way to do that will help keep Vero Beach the town where everyone wants to live.
"Vero Beach is a resort town, a special place and we enjoy our lifestyle," Mr. Thomas said.
Hometown News is attempting to contact all candidates for city council for profiles.
To see more candidate profiles, read Hometown News or search online at www.myhometownnews.net.