INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Incumbents Peter O’Bryan and Joe Flescher were overwhelmingly swept back into office as County Commissioners Tuesday night.
O’Bryan handily won his District 4 seat with 27,857 votes defeating independent Kenny Holmes (9,115 votes) and Democrat Steven Deardeuff (8,178). Flescher (31,136 votes) easily handled Democrat David Snell (10,499 votes) and independent Carolyn Corum (4,092).
“I gathered a lot more support than I had four years ago, including endorsements from some who didn’t support me last time,” O’Bryan said. “I was a complete unknown four years ago. Now they’ve seen that, my door is open, I discuss the issues, do my research and then try to do what’s best for the community.”
Flescher by far raised the most money for his campaign, collecting $42,749 from contributors.
“I believe the citizens knew I worked hard for them,” he said. “I’ve been direct, I’ve been approachable no matter what the issue was. I think I am known as a direct problem-solver.”
Both candidates faced significant primary challenges en route to the general election. O’Bryan, who picked up support from the Indian River Neighborhood Association and local businesses, defeated Tom Lowther by just 529 votes in August. The incumbent had beaten Lowther in 2006 to earn the District 4 seat.
Flescher faced a significant challenge in the primary defeating Indian River Neighborhood Association-backed Dale Simchick and Charlie Wilson in a three-way race.
The two join Gary Wheeler, Bob Solari and Wesley Davis, all of whose county commission terms end in 2012. Finding jobs to ease a 15.4 percent unemployment rate in the county will be one of the commission’s top priorities in the coming term.
One of the key items on the agenda for the County Commission is bringing in employers and industries to help ease the 15.4 percent unemployment rate that is fourth-worst in the state.
Wilson, who has championed the cause of getting Vero Beach out of the utility business, said there may be some movement in that regard after the election.
“There is still the whole power situation,” said Wilson. “With the Vero Beach city council changing, that will change the roll of the county commission. Because if it changes from a negative sell on the power plant to a positive one then the first thing that will happen is that they will vote that it is the policy of Vero Beach that they prepare the electric utility for sale. The city will then be able to go to the county and ask them to go with them before the Public Services Commission and make that change.”