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Grandson of Vero’s first mayor new face on the City Council


One of the more enjoyable tasks the newly seated Vero Beach City Council will undertake after being sworn in next week is the planning of the city’s centennial celebration in 2019, and with the election of Tony Young, there will be someone with a direct connection to the city’s founding on board to help.

Young, a 61-year-old Vero Beach native, is the grandson of Vero’s first mayor, A.W. Young, who was elected in 1919 and served a subsequent term in 1935. Those deep roots and commitment to serving his hometown are part of what drove Young to run for office, and likely what got him elected.

Back in the 1970s, Young enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from Vero Beach High School and completing his Air Force R.O.T.C. training there as part of the program’s first graduating class. He later earned two master’s degrees – one in Business Administration from the College of William and Mary and one in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, after completing his undergraduate study at the Virginia Military Institute. He’s also received training from the U.S. Army Flight School and the Army’s Academy of Health Sciences.

After 30 years of decorated military service, working as a helicopter pilot in the combat medic corps and serving all over Europe and the Middle East, including tours of duty in the Gulf War, Bosnia and Iraq, Young and his wife Sharon returned home to Vero. They live in the family’s historic home in McAnsh Park, one of Vero’s longest-established neighborhoods, and worship at the nearby St Helen Catholic Church, where Young is a lifelong member.

Coming home to sleepy Vero Beach to volunteer his time after living all over the world and retiring as an Army colonel might seem like a step backward for a man with Young’s resume, but he says it’s that sense of a familiar place to call home that drew him back 10 years ago.

He worked via the Veterans Council of Indian River County to bring disparate groups together and begin to centralize services and support for local veterans and their families. Along with Vero matriarch Alma Lee Loy, he spearheaded the effort to redevelop and revitalize the city’s Memorial Island Sanctuary where the Veterans Day ceremony was held last week.

Young believes in servant-leadership, not the ego-driven leadership that has turned many off to politics and soured some residents on the goings-on at Vero City Hall.

“When you have the opportunity to travel, as we have, throughout Europe and you get to see other cultures, as well as the Middle East, you realize that there is a greater purpose to your life and that does not permit you to think of yourself as greater than any other,” Young said about his outlook on faith and on respecting other people’s rights.

Neighborhoods are important, he said, and so are the families who bring those neighborhoods to life. “Families are important. As a leader, understanding the impact [of decisions and policies] on families is something you can trust that I would consider,” Young said.

In his first run for public office, Young garnered more than 18 percent of the votes cast for six candidates running for three seats, placing him in the second slot, just 156 votes behind Laura Moss, and 117 votes ahead of Lange Sykes, by the initial count.

Young was backed by a diverse group, from law enforcement leaders and the public safety unions, to local religious leaders, the Indian River Neighborhood Association and former mayor Dick Winger.

Young was not one of the three candidates – Moss, Sykes and failed challenger Norman Wells – who pledged to vote for a sale of the Indian River Shores electric customers to Florida Power & Light for $30 million, should that offer be resuscitated.

Holding fast to his belief that the city should be made whole for the very long term and lauding the city staff and consultants who came up with the $47 million price tag that is intended to replace the Shores’ contributions to the general fund for 50 years and provide a blank check for contingencies, Young says he won’t vote for a deal that he feels is in any way detrimental to city residents.

Young and Winger are now expected to be in the minority on a great number of fiscal and other decisions going forward. Young and the other two new council members will be sworn in at an organizational meeting at 10 a.m. Monday. At that time, a mayor and vice mayor will be nominated and chosen, and council members will engage in a legal briefing on Florida’s open meetings and open records laws.