City Council candidate Dingle scoffs at ‘back-room deal’ talk

Taylor Dingle

Vero Beach City Council candidate Taylor Dingle denies any promise to nominate John Carroll for mayor in exchange for receiving Carroll’s endorsement in the November election.

Responding to growing-but-unsubstantiated rumors of the alleged arrangement, Dingle wrote in an Oct. 6 statement that he had not made any such deals with any current council member and if elected, does not “intend to make any nominations” for mayor during the Nov. 22 organizational meeting.

“The same applies for voting,” Dingle said on Sunday. “Nominating and voting has never crossed my mind. Winning this election is my one and only concern.”

He went on to add that “no type of back-room deal” was made with Carroll and his wife, Tracy, a former City Council member, in exchange for the couple’s support of his campaign.
He said he was surprised to learn of the Carrolls’ endorsement, which they announced in a Facebook post on Aug. 25, but is grateful for their backing, which included Carroll inviting him to a local Rotary Club meeting as his guest.

Dingle, 27, said Carroll told him he is supporting his candidacy because the councilman believes “it’s time to pass the torch” to a younger generation and bring “new, fresh ideas” to city government.

“I hope to work with him soon, along with the others on the dais,” Dingle said. “I think we’d make one of the most diverse councils ever.

“Unfortunately,” he added, “some have jumped to their own conclusions, or hope these rumors deter others from voting for me – or they just like drama.”

Asked about the rumors, Carroll said Monday “nothing could be further from the truth,” adding that he backed Dingle’s candidacy in 2022, when he, Dingle and Tracey Zudans supported each other’s campaigns.

“Taylor called me the day before the candidate qualifying period ended to tell me he was thinking about running, and he wanted to know my thoughts,” Carroll said. “I told him he should, because we need to get more young people involved and get some new, fresh ideas on the council.

“He has come a long way as a candidate,” he added. “He’s vice chairman of the city’s Utilities Commission, and he’s got more knowledge now.”

Dingle, a John’s Island golf professional, received only 9 percent of the vote and finished fifth in a seven-candidate race in 2021. He ran again last year, getting 11 percent of the vote to finish sixth in an eight-candidate race.

Dingle is one of three candidates seeking two council seats on Nov. 7.

He will be joined on the ballot by incumbent John Cotugno and former council member Honey Minuse, who lost her re-election bid last year after she was targeted by a local grassroots group opposed to the city’s plan to build a substantially larger boat-storage facility at the municipal marina.

After serving as mayor for the past 11 months, Cotugno said he would welcome the opportunity to continue as mayor if re-elected. He declined to comment on the rumors of a Dingle-Carroll agreement.

Dingle found himself beating back a second round of attacks last week after a video was distributed accusing him of shifting positions on the contentious Twin Pairs issue.

In an email to Vero Beach 32963 last week, Dingle wrote that he “never supported” the lane reduction, his position “has not wavered,” and he “would not approve it if elected” to the council.

Dingle issued the public statement after a video on the TruthLocal YouTube channel – produced by a studio loosely connected to former local political operative Charlie Wilson – was posted online and sent via text message to registered city voters.

The brief video claims Dingle “is on record for slowing downtown traffic,” inferring he supports the proposed lane reduction along the Twin Pairs through downtown Vero Beach.

Dingle wrote that he wants the downtown area to be “economically and culturally vibrant,” but added that “lane reduction is not the answer.” He expressed his support for the less-draconian traffic-calming and safety measures approved by the previous council.

Dingle wrote in his email to 32963 that the TruthLocal video was intended to “spread false, misleading and uncredited information” about him and to “trick city residents.”

On Monday, Wilson acknowledged that he is a partner in the TruthLocal studio, but he defended the video, citing remarks Dingle allegedly made to the Let’s Talk Vero website about the proposed lane reduction last month, when he was quoted as saying, “I am not entirely in favor of removing our infrastructure, but it would be inappropriate to take a position at this time, until we have collected all the data.”

Wilson then referred to TruthLocal’s most recent video, which quotes Dingle as saying he is opposed to the lane reduction.

“It is not a political outlet,” Wilson said of the studio, which states in its terms of service that it will not knowingly publish or produce any material that is false. “I’m not involved in politics in Indian River County, nor am I involved in the Vero Beach city elections.

“I do have my opinion on the Twin Pairs,” he added, “but I don’t have a candidate in the race and I don’t care who gets elected.”

On Sunday, Dingle said it was important that city voters know where council candidates stand on important issues, such as the Twin Pairs lane-reduction proposal.

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