By Lisa ZahnerVERO BEACH — Vero Beach City Council candidate Charlie Wilson said Monday night he will not back down from his campaign to get the city out of the utility business after being cleared by the State Attorney’s Office of an allegation that he lied about his residency when filing to run for office.”I will not be intimidated and will continue my fight to bring about an end to excessively high utility rates being charged customers by the City of Vero Beach,” said Wilson, who became the target of the investigation after an ethics complaint was filed earlier this month.
Investigators interviewed Wilson and his neighbors to determine that he indeed lived within the city limits on 36th Avenue at the time of his filing. Before moving to a new leased residence shortly before filing, he had been living in the county and would not have qualified to run for office in Vero Beach. “I am pleased but not surprised that the State Attorney would dismiss a totally unfounded complaint about my qualifications,” Wilson said. “I meet all of the requirements to be a candidate.Wilson is one of seven candidates running for two open seats and will be on the ballot along with incumbents Bill Fish and Debra Fromang, former councilman Ken Daige and challengers Brian Heady, Jack Shupe and Susan Viviano. The election will be held on Nov. 3.He has been one of the most vocal critics of the city utility, which has levied electric rate increases over the summer that have many in the community up in arms.”This has little to do with my qualifications and a lot to do with my fight to bring relief to all of the people who are being victimized by City electric and utility rates. I will continue to fight against the inexcusable electric and utility rates and continue to advocate that if we can’t be competitive in the power business, we need to get out of the power business.” Wilson said.
Wilson often comments on City affairs in his blog, Indian River Report, and during his frequent appearances on local radio. “They say ‘You can’t fight City Hall.’ I guess this is what you get when you do,” said Wilson. “I have ruffled a lot of feathers and will continue to do so.”He said he is ready to get back to the business of campaigning instead of answering questions about his eligibility.”I am glad that this nonsense is over and we can get to the real issue. This is just silly”, said Wilson. “There are many more important things for law enforcement to concentrate on than to spend five days investigating where I sleep. No one even tried to see if there was any validity to the complaint. I guess that city officials just hoped that bad publicity would distract voters from the real issues, poor management and many, many multi-million dollar mistakes that have led to a customer revolt.”Let me make this clear, I will not be intimidated and I will not stop. Relief from high rates is on the way and that’s a fact.”