Daige was not first choice of two Vero council members who voted him in

VERO BEACH — Two Vero Beach City Council members said Ken Daige did not begin the selection process as their first choice, but his interview performance propelled him near the top of their lists, leading to his selection to fill the vacant council seat.Both Tom White and Brian Heady said said they had other applicants as their first choice, but as the one-on-one and group interviews went along he stood out with his knowledge of the issues confronting the city and how the Council operates. Daige was a member of the Council from 2006 to 2008.

“Ken really did a good job in his interviews,” said White, who was mayor during Daige’s first council term. “He is a hard worker and even though we don’t agree on everything, I do think he has the best interest of Vero Beach in mind.”Heady, who finished second in the most recent city council election, where Daige finished third, said his newest colleague was not among his favorites, but he was intent on keeping an open mind. In fact, he had Daige ranked last at the beginning of the process.”He was at the bottom (when the process started),” said Heady, who also noted he and Daige do not see eye-to-eye on all city matters. “Several of the candidates didn’t seem to have a grasp of the issues and Ken did. It seems to me if you put in an application for a job like that you would have at least studied the issues.”After an hour and-a-half interview process with the applicants — Daige, Al Benkert, Richard Kennedy, Tracy Carroll and William Mills — the four council members provided a numerical ranking. Daige, Benkert and Kennedy finished tied for first with 14 points.Benkert was nominated first in the official balloting but after a 2-2 vote, Mayor Kevin Sawnick nominated Daige with White providing the second after some hesitation.”I wanted to see who else would (provide the) second,” White said. “I did feel that Ken deserved a shot. He was the third top vote-getter, ran a good campaign and I think he’s paid his dues.”Part of Daige’s dues-paying was to attend every City Council meeting since being voted out of office in 2008. That fact, and his interview performance, vaulted him to the top of Sawnick’s list. Sawnick said he did not have any of the candidates ranked ahead of the interviews.”Whether you agree with him or not, he has knowledge on all the issues,” Sawnick said.White, Heady and Sawnick all voted in favor Daige, with the lone no vote going to vice-mayor Sabe Abell.Daige replaces Charlie Wilson, who lost his seat when a judge ruled he did not meet residency requirements. Wilson’s pet project was trying to sell the power plant and moving Vero Beach utility customers to Florida Power and Light.One of the first steps in that process would be to try and invalidate the recent contract that went into effect with the Orlando Utilities Commission, but Daige said he has not made a decision if he would vote for that course of action.

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