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Three backing Vero electric sale enter City Council race

STORY BY EILEEN KELLEY, (Week of August 30, 2012)

Three people – including the mayor – have expressed their intentions so far to run for the three Vero Beach City Council spots that will be up for grabs in November.

But one man still on the fence, Councilman Jay Kramer, likely didn’t have perennial candidate Brian Heady, Mayor Pilar Turner or Vice Mayor Craig Fletcher in mind when he said he wouldn’t run if there are three good candidates out there. All three are in favor of the city getting out of the electricity business.

The deadline to qualify for City Council is Sept. 7.

Kramer is opposed to the sale of the power plant, a possibility that seems tantalizingly close and which may even be decided before the November election. 

Heady, fresh off a defeat in his primary race for the County Commission race Aug. 14, was the first out of the gate to file the paperwork qualifying him for run for City Council. 

Fletcher has also filed the paperwork.  He served two, two-year terms on the council a decade ago and hopes to grab another back-to-back spot this time.

Heady’s been running for elected office since 1992.

 “It’s not a legal election unless my name is on the ballot,” Heady joked.

Heady has run so many times, he’s lost track of how many. Or possibly never counted.

One thing he is able to count is the number of times he has actually won an election: the one time when he ran for city council in 2009. He lost his re-election bid  last year.

As in most of his campaigns, Heady said he will not seek campaign donations. “I think the amount of money that is poured into campaigns is obscene,” he said.

Fletcher opened a campaign account and appointed a campaign treasurer in May for the race. He said the biggest issue facing the new council will be how to move forward and run the city without the electricity business.

“It’s going to be a challenge, that is for sure,” said Fletcher. Nevertheless, he strongly believes it’s time for the city to get out of the utility business. “The point is, you cannot afford not to sell the plant,” he said.

Kramer agrees with Fletcher that operating the city will prove challenging if the city no longer harvests  millions in electric bill revenues for the general fund.  

He said his decision isn’t a matter of whether he can win, but who else will be running. 

Someone who hasn’t shown much interest in running is Nick Thomas, even though he shares Kramer’s view that the city should not sell the power plant.

“The sale, as much as I would like to be on a team that fights against it, it is so depressing I almost want to keep my hands out of [it].  I think this could really kill the city of Vero Beach.”

Thomas ran against Heady and Bob Solari in the GOP County Commission primary, leading many to think he was trying to increase his name recognition prior to  seeking a City Council seat.

But Thomas, an attorney, said the $900 a month a City Council member is paid wasn’t enticing enough to seek that office.

“As the black ball would say, 'All signs point to no,'” said Thomas referring to the Crazy Eight Ball, a popular toy of yesteryear that offered responses when asked questions.

Mayor Turner said over the weekend that she intends to fill out the paperwork to run for the office in the upcoming days.