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Vero Beach 32963 to host City Council debate

(Week of October 1, 2013)

The first-ever Vero Beach City Council Candidate Debate hosted by Vero Beach 32963 and will be attended by all five major candidates and will be telecast on WWCI-TV10.

The 90-minute debate will take place in the ballroom of the Costa d’Este Beach Resort at 8:30 p.m. this Thursday, October 3. 

Both incumbent City Council members, Richard Winger and Tracy Carroll, have confirmed their participation, as well as have the three major challengers, former Councilman Brian Heady, former mayor Warren Winchester, and political newcomer Amelia Graves.

First-time candidate Joseph Guffanti will be out of town and not able to take part.

The 8:30 p.m. start time is later than originally announced as the event was pushed back to allow all the candidates to participate.

“When we realized all five wanted very much to take part but that a couple had an earlier commitment, we decided to move the start time back to enable maximum participation,” said Vero Beach 32963 publisher Milton R. Benjamin, who will moderate the debate.

“This is an extraordinarily important election, and I think it is tremendous that thousands of voters will have a chance to see this debate between council candidates as it takes place," said Benjamin.  “This is the only debate between council candidates that will be televised, and we greatly appreciate Channel 10 stepping up to carry it.”

After working out technical details in several meetings last week, Executive Editor Pieter Van Bennekom and TV10 owner Jose Guerra finalized a deal to give the greater community access to the lively debate expected at the event.

Beyond the original telecast, the 90-minute debate scheduled to be replayed on TV10 at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Friday and at 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Many of the questions Thursday evening will be asked by a politically diverse Community Leaders Panel representing various viewpoints and constituencies.

Panelists will include Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari, Indian River County Democratic Party Vice Chair and environmental activist Kristy Polackwich, Vero Beach Lifeguard Association founder Erik Toomsoo, and local architect Indian River County Chamber of Commerce Past President Anthony Donadio. Cpl. Darrell Rivers of the Vero Beach Police Department will represent the law enforcement community on the panel.

Benjamin will also pose questions formulated by the Vero Beach 32963 news staff to the candidates. Unlike some other forums, the debate will provide candidates the opportunity to rebut statements made by their opponents.

A wine and cheese reception with the 32963 news staff will be held at prior to the debate starting at 7:30 the covered courtyard outside the Crystal Room.