FELLSMERE — One Fellsmere City Councilman took time during Thursday’s meeting to remind his fellow council members why they are on the council – to serve the citizens of Fellsmere.
Councilman Fernando Herrera brought up the council’s attendance policy, not in an effort to make changes to it, but instead to encourage the council to attend every council meeting. “I think everyone’s doing a good job,” said Herrera, however, they need to stay focused on the job of serving the residents. “We need each other,” Herrera said.
Councilman Daniel Naranjo took issue with Herrera’s reminder.
“Almost everything was against me,” Naranjo said of what Herrera told the council.
The councilman has missed six of the last 24 council meetings since July 2009, according to council minutes. Herrera has missed one meeting, while the remaining members of council – Mayor Susan Adams, Vice Mayor Joel Tyson, and Councilwoman Sara Savage – missed none.
While Naranjo appeared to take Herrera’s comments personally, Herrera did not name anyone during his remarks.
“I’m not picking on anybody,” Herrera said during his comments to council.
“We recognize that things are going to happen,” Mayor Adams said, and that council members may need to miss a meeting from time to time.
Naranjo has missed two of the five council meetings so far this year, for both of which he gave prior notice.
“I’m trying to do my best,” Naranjo said. “I’m here for a reason. I want to help the city.”
He explained that there have been times when he just could not make it to the meetings.
“Sometimes, I’m in the middle of a grove,” said Naranjo, who works in the citrus industry.
Both Herrera and Adams told Naranjo that the attendance policy reminder was directed at everyone, not just him.
“We appreciate your commitment,” Adams said, adding that the council recognizes Naranjo’s work requirements and schedule. “We understand.”
According to Fellsmere City code, council members could be removed from the dais if they fail to attend two consecutive council meetings for which they did not give prior notice they would not be attending.
Council members who are charged with such absences would be entitled to a public hearing, during which the remaining members of council would determine whether or not to remove the council member.
Such a decision would be subject to a judge’s review at the Indian River County Circuit Court.
Between July 2009 and April 1, no council member has received an unexcused absence.