Empty seat on Vero council could be filled this week

VERO BEACH – The month-long vacancy on the Vero Beach City Council could be filled later this week once council members interview five applicants vying for a place on the dais. The opening was created when newly elected Councilman Charlie Wilson was removed from office for not meeting city residency requirements.

The interviews are expected to begin at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the council chambers and will be televised on the city’s government channel. The four members on the council could vote after the interviews and swear in their new colleague – or could choose not to approve any of the applicants. Those Vero Beach residents seeking to fill the seat left open after councilman Charlie Wilson was removed in December include a former councilman who ran in the November election, a real estate broker, a businesswoman and mom, a commercial real estate broker, and a near-native and businessman.

Meet the Applicants

Former Vero Beach City Councilman Ken Daige

Along with having served a term on the Vero Beach council, Ken Daige served in the military during the Grenada conflict in the mid-1980s.

While on council, Daige made himself unpopular at City Hall by challenging the way the council dealt with the utilities issue. And since his time on the dais, Daige attends every city council meeting, most committee meetings and often addresses the council from the podium. He is often seen taking notes during the meetings and he also orders DVDs of meetings as part of his “record keeping” of actions.

Real estate broker Al Benkert

Al Benkert is real estate broker who said he has learned how to read people and figure out what motivates them. At one point during his career, Benkert had a job taking over dysfunctional companies and fixing them.

Benkert said he has managed $20 million budgets that he believes would serve as good training for the Vero Beach City Council.

When he’s not brokering real estate deals, Benkert serves as president of the Oceanside Business Association and teaches Tony Robbins seminars.

Businesswoman Tracy Carroll

Tracy Carroll is a businesswoman, mother and president of her Rotary Club, who would represent the interests of the city’s working families – because she is a member of such a family.

She said there is a disconnect between who the city’s stakeholders are and where the true seat of power is located. She also believes there is a “silent majority” of Vero Beach residents who are too busy working to participate in council meetings.

Commercial real estate agent Richard Kennedy

Richard Kennedy, a commercial Realtor, chose to partially retire to Vero Beach – in part due to the city’s small town feel.

Before going into real estate, Kennedy was an attorney in Washington, D.C., working in telecommunications. He cites his big-city job experience as a strength he would bring to the council dais.

Kennedy doesn’t attend council meetings and doesn’t watch them on television. He said he knows enough about the city operations to point out a few areas for improvement.

Businessman Bill Mills

Having moved to Vero Beach at the age of 1, Bill Mills considers himself a near-native who doesn’t really see it as the non-natives do. A Vero Beach High alum, he is the president of Real Estate and Management Group and part owner of the former Fat Boy’s restaurant.

Mills has never before sought public office until now, though he says he knows who to call to get information or to get things done.

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