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Vero picks former mayor to fill council seat

VERO BEACH — By a 3 to 1 vote, the Vero Beach City Council has selected former mayor Dick Winger to fill Joe Graves’ council seat until the November election. 

The council interviewed six applicants — Winger, former councilman Brian Heady, retired police sergeant Chris Drake, Vero Young Republicans founder Taylor Dingle, Utilities Commission member and two-time candidate John Cotugno, and retired school administrator and business owner Peter Benedict II, the son of the long-time St. Edward’s School headmaster.

In addition to an overview of each applicant’s qualifications, the main topics of discussion and questioning included the Three Corners riverfront development, the city marina, utility and stormwater issues, beachside parking and the upcoming charter review. 

Winger, 83, who served three terms on council from 2011 to 2017, said he applied because the job would be easy for him to do, and because he was looking for an activity outside of the house in his retirement. 

Only Mayor Robbie Brackett did not vote for Winger as his choice to fill the interim seat. 

City Attorney John Turner will contact Winger to notify him that he is now subject to Florida’s Sunshine Laws and public records laws. 

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