The following is a prepared statement by Vero Beach City Councilman Charlie Wilson:
For many, change is a hard pill to swallow.
I do not regret my decision to run for Vero Beach City Council. I am grateful for the people who supported me both before and after the election.
I knew that residency might be a political issue but I did not imagine that it would be a legal issue. This could have all been avoided by the City and city residents deserve better. I have never heard of a law that was interpreted using “that’s what we meant” instead of “that’s what it says” except in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Of course I could have just waited a year but when the issue of indefensible electric rates became clear and I determined that the current administration and Council was determined to do nothing, I knew I had to do something now. Some of us were not going to last a year without immediate relief.
In the brief time that I have been allowed to serve we have accomplished much. We have engaged FP&L after years of delay. We have opened meetings to public input, we have restricted Council travel. Other changes including banning resign and rehire and doing away with the ability for government employees to cash in on years of sick time have been proposed but remain to have a vote. We have shown that citizens and their needs have been an afterthought with government jobs, generous benefits, retirement pay deemed more important. Important information has been hidden. Make no mistake about it at least in the City of Vero Beach “we citizens work for them…they don’t work for us.”
An obedient and “ask no questions” council was needed to complete the plan. For many years that is exactly what staff had. A council easily led, slow to question and even slower to act. It may therefore take one more election to do what is needed. Remember, qualifying for the next election is just nine months away.
I appreciate the difficult position of Judge Kanarek but believe he was in error and will seek to appeal his decision. However, the cost of legal action may be prohibitive so our appeal may be directly to the public next year when the residency issue cannot once again be used to overturn the will of the voter.
Although there will be critics and detractors, many with their own axe to grind, I can say with a clear conscience that we tried to do the right thing. We knew why people sent us to Council and we did not back down.
This is a temporary setback. The wheels of change are already in motion and the powers that be can no longer hide. They cannot put the rabbit back in the hat.
Again, my heartfelt thanks to all who offered their support and good wishes. Let not your heart be troubled. In just nine months someone will finish the job we started.