Kristine Isnardi tapped as chair of County Commission

Palm Bay nurse-practitioner Kristine Isnardi, who spent the last year as vice chair of the Brevard County Commission, got a unanimous nod this time around from her colleagues to be 2019’s new chair.

Isnardi, 45, was elected in 2016 to the District 5 seat, which includes all of Indialantic, plus some patches of unincorporated Brevard County and a swath of the City of Melbourne up to Eau Gallie Boulevard on the barrier island.

As the new chair, Isnardi will wield the gavel, keeping order and leading her colleagues through each meeting’s agenda. But she won’t be able to make motions without passing the gavel to Bryan Lober, who was chosen as 2019’s vice chair.

Lober, in fact, nominated Isnardi to the chair.

Lober, 34, a Rockledge attorney, was sworn in to the District 2 seat by County Judge Ben Garagozlo before becoming vice chair. Commissioner John Tobia nominated the new commissioner.

District 2, the county’s most tourist-oriented area, includes southern Merritt Island.

Before his Nov. 6 election, Lober said one of his priorities will be to increase the amount of money spent on aid to the lagoon by looking into the Tourist Development Council’s advertising budget.

After the meeting, Isnardi said she has a few ideas she’d like to initiate. But she didn’t want to state them openly to avoid communicating them outside of a meeting to her colleagues.

Such an act would violate Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law, which deems that such discussions should be held only in an advertised public session.

“It’s a good thing that these commissioners are very respective of each other,” Isnardi said. “Order is usually maintained.”

Isnardi thanked former chairwoman Rita Pritchett, of Titusville, for running such smooth meetings. She said she’d look to Pritchett for assistance in the new year.

Tobia, of Grant-Valkaria, and Curt Smith, of Melbourne, spent much of 2018 quarreling over issues like improving the Indian River Lagoon.

But Isnardi attributed that to the recent election, in which Tobia supported Smith’s primary opponent, Trudie Infantini. She said she didn’t see those disputes as a problem in the coming year.

Smith, 70, won election Nov. 6 to a second four-year term in the District 4 seat. Circuit Judge David Dugan swore him in.

He has called this his “second and final term.” The Brevard County Charter bars commissioners from a third term unless they sit one out first.

District 4 includes the Satellite Beach and Indian Harbor Beach areas on the barrier island.

Clerk of Courts Scott Ellis, who was a commissioner from 1992 to 1996, was among those in the almost packed audience. He said the people didn’t fill the seats to see Isnardi become the chair, but rather to see Lober be sworn in.

“The chair is nothing but more paperwork and headaches,” he said. “They tried to make me chairman (in 1996) but I turned them down.”

And he said Lober’s swearing-in drew the crowd, not Smith’s. Lober has been discussed in political circles as a third member of a new Tobia-Isnardi-Lober majority. Some say that would wrest leadership from the prior majority of Smith, Pritchett and former Commissioner Jim Barfield, Lober’s predecessor.

“Curt Smith is dead,” Ellis said of his remaining influence. Contacted later, Smith declined to comment directly on Ellis’ remark.

“He’s entitled to his opinion like everyone else,” Smith said. “I assume all five of us want to do the best for the county.”

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