110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Sid Vihlen to fill empty seat on DeBary City Council
posted Jul 23, 2014 - 10:36:27am
DeBary City Council members struggled to choose a replacement member for a City Council vacancy, finally deciding on a 3-1 vote July 16 to appoint Sid Vihlen.
The motion by Council Member Dan Hunt was carried by Council Member Lita Handy-Peters and Mayor Chris Carson, with Council Member Rick Dwyer dissenting.
The temporary appointment was needed because Carson assumed the mayor’s seat after Bob Garcia resigned as mayor July 2 to run for a seat in the Florida Legislature.
The temporary City Council member will serve until January, as a regular replacement will be elected either Aug. 26 or Nov. 4, and will be sworn in in January.
Several motions fell flat before Hunt’s succeeded. Both Hunt and Dwyer proposed candidates whose nominations received stony silence from the rest of the city Council. Hunt nominated former Council Member Nick Koval, whom Dwyer defeated in the last election. Also among the unsuccessful motions was Dwyer’s proposal to delay the appointment till after the Aug. 26 primary election.
“Let the voters decide,” Dwyer said.
Carson seconded that motion for a discussion, and that was when the meeting heated up.
Hunt wasted little time, jumping into the discussion and declaring, “We appoint someone tonight. If we don’t have the guts, then let’s wait till Jan. 1.”
Dwyer and Hunt briefly debated the merits of a delay. Dwyer thought it was better to let the voters pick, while Hunt advocated appointment, arguing that with three candidates running for the seat, the chances of one receiving more than 50 percent were small, leaving the seat vacant till a runoff in November. Handy-Peters and Carson stayed mostly quiet during the spirited back-and-forth between Hunt and Dwyer.
In an interview with The Beacon after the meeting, Hunt talked about his choice of Vihlen and his insistence on making an appointment.
“We only have a few months left, and though Sid wasn’t my first choice … he has common sense, is nonconfrontational and has been around for a while. That is what you need,” Hunt said.
Hunt said Vihlen did not lobby him, and that he had not spoken to Vihlen since receiving the candidate applications from City Hall.
You could hear a pin drop in the silence of City Hall during the meeting as Dwyer explained why he did not want to support Hunt’s motion to appoint Vihlen. Dwyer cited Vihlen’s past advocacy of Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA). A decade ago, when DeBary proposed creating a CRA, the concept was highly controversial.
You may recall CRA’s from 10 years ago when DeBary rebelled at the idea of labeling part of their city “blighted” to qualify for the special taxing program. Carson dismissed his concerns saying “the CRA is behind us.” Handy-Peters agreed and Vih-len won the vote.
“Sid is a great guy. I admire what he has done for the community. He is a level-headed individual and an analytical thinker,” Dwyer told The Beacon. “But I disagree with him on the CRA, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt … now that he is on the committee.”
Vihlen was not in attendance; his appointment will be confirmed by the City Council in August.
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