On Monday, after three attempts, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council could not decide which of the five candidates who applied, should be appointed to the seat left vacant when Bill Veach quit the council at the end of 2023. The Council should now let the voters decide.
Barbara Hill, Ed Schoonover, James Boan, Sal Pedone and Scott Safford submitted applications for the open seat. All five were interviewed at length on Beach Talk Radio over the last several weeks. All five made brief statements at the end of the Town Council meeting Monday.
Then it was time to vote.
A candidate needed 3 votes to take the seat. Three votes produced the same results: 2 votes for Safford (Woodson and Atterholt), 1 vote for Schoonover (King) and 1 vote for Boan (Allers). With nobody willing to change their vote, the council decided to try again after their Management & Planning session on February 15th. Due to the Florida Sunshine Law, the council is not allowed to discuss this issue (or any issues they may vote on) outside a public meeting.
The Town Council should now let the voters decide who should fill the empty seat on election day this November. Of the five candidates now, none of them have a path to 3 votes on the 15th. None of the remaining four council members should be pressured to flip either. They clearly have reasons for standing firm for their candidate or they would have flipped on vote two or vote three Monday. Flipping now would look disingenuous or smell of a back-room deal. The time for lobbying was before the vote Monday.
There is nothing in the town charter that says this open seat must be filled by the council. Letting the voters decide will force all serious candidates to announce they are running, create a platform with their issues, start attending every meeting to get up to speed on those issues, and interact with Fort Myers Beach voters so those voters can get to know who would be participating in some very important decisions the next 4 years. And, if we’re all being honest, the voters want to know exactly how any candidate stands on the Comp Plan, the LDC and development.
This current council works very well together. They rarely have to worry about a 2-2 vote, especially on major issues. Going around and around again on this vote is not a good look (remember the Kevin McCarthy speaker vote fiasco).
The likelihood of big projects like London Bay/Outrigger, Moss Marina, The Neptune or Red Coconut coming before the council before November is slim. None of the major projects have even come before the LPA.
November is only 9 months away.
The Town Council should now let the voters decide on November 5th who should occupy that 5th seat.
A previous version of our story misspelled Scott Safford’s last name and we apoloize to Scott for that mistake.