VERO BEACH — For the second consecutive election, voters in the City of Vero Beach sent a strong signal that they want change by ushering in a slate of four challengers — all of whom ran on utility issues.
Tracy Carroll handily took the one-year seat away from incumbent Vice Mayor Sabin Abell and also defeated latecomer Al Benkert in the process. Carroll, who had championed the referendum effort to force the sale of the electric utility, said the result voting her in was in itself a referendum.
Carroll said the result was a “call for stability and cooperation on the City Council.”
Challengers Pilar Turner, Jay Kramer and former Mayor Craig Fletcher won enough votes to fill the three two-year seats that were up for grabs.
Kramer said Tuesday night’s vote was a sequel to last year’s election of Brian Heady and Charlie Wilson. He said the rage over high utility rates that drove people to the polls one year ago motivated them again in this race.
“I don’t think the sentiment was quelled at all,” he said, adding that higher unemployment and economic conditions made matters even worse for those on fixed incomes or seeking jobs.
Challengers who did not succeed for the two-year seats were Richard Kennedy, Michael Thomas and Dr. David Fromang.
Mayor Kevin Sawnick and Councilman Ken Daige seemed to draw from the same pool of voters who were happy with their efforts as they finished a mere four votes apart.
Daige and Sawnick had worked hard to connect with what they called “regular people” and had been advocates of businesses and residents in and near the Downtown Vero and Main Street area.
Earlier in the evening when returns were not yet finalized, Sawnick vowed to remain dedicated to causes within the city.
“Whatever works out, I’ll still be involved with the city; whether I’m on the City Council or not,” he said.
Councilman Tom White did not run, opting for retirement, leaving Councilman Brian Heady as the sole incumbent remaining on the council.
Heady said he was very pleased with the result and looked forward to working with the new members.
“We have a functioning City Council that will demand financial analysis and transparency. The taxpayers have won,” he said.
Vero Beach results
1-Year Term (1)
2-Year Term (3)