By Noelle H. Lowery
Bob Brown had quite a fan club at this week’s Marco Island City Council meeting.
With Councilor Larry Sacher leading the way, Brown was named Larry Magel’s successor on the city council by a vote of 4-2. “In light of the significant issues before us now, we should fill this seat as quickly as possible. I would like to make a motion to appoint Bob Brown to replace Larry Magel on the council,” suggested Sacher.
Councilor Amadeo Petricca quickly agreed: “I had it here on my notes to approve Robert C. Brown to the city council. He has extensive experience on city boards and committees. He is vice chairman of the planning board, and he is present at almost all city council meetings. He is well-respected in the community.”
Even those voting in dissent — councilors Chuck Keister and Larry Honig — were big fans of Brown. In fact, their biggest objection to the appointment was that they wanted city council to explore all options before making a decision on who to appoint to Magel’s vacant seat. “I just think we are pushing this too fast,” explained Keister. “Bob Brown is a fine man who will make an excellent city councilor.
Honig agreed: “Bob Brown is a fine man, a neighbor and a friend. I would urge us to take time out here. Delay it. I think it would be a strong signal to the city to ask for persons to step forward…It would send a message to the city that we are listening to you.”
Magel formally resigned on Wednesday, Aug. 14, in a written statement to Batte. Although Magel and his wife, Joanna, have lived on Marco Island since 1989, he indicated that they are moving off-island in September. He was elected to the city council in January 2010, and his term is set to expire in November 2014. Prior to being a Marco Island city councilor, Magel served on several city committees, including Forensic Audit, Charter Review, Ad Hoc Electrical, Ad Hoc Utility and Budget Sub-Committee.
In his resignation, Magel urged the city council to appoint his successor as soon as possible to help provide consistency and continuity to some major decisions on the city’s horizon, such as approval of the FY 2014 budget and the selection of a new city manager. To be sure, the city charter provides for a quick decision in these instances. According to section 3.05 of the city charter, “if a vacancy occurs and the remainder of the unexpired term is 28 months or less, the remaining council members shall, within sixty (60) days following the occurrence of such vacancy, by majority vote of the council members, appoint a person to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term.”
Once Brown’s name was tossed into the ring, a number of residents stepped up to the microphone to show their support. “Larry Magel’s resignation caught us all off guard,” noted Bill McMullan of EyeOnMarco. “I think all of the positive comments about Bob Brown are right on target. In my eyes, he is surely that individual who fits the bill right now for the next 14 months. Bob Brown rises to the top of the heap.”
Bob Olson, Dr. Bill Trotter and Linda Turned concurred. “I am in favor of Bob Brown as well,” said Turner. “We have some really important issues that have to be dealt with ASAP. The others (who are interested) will have the opportunity to run (for the seat) in 14 months.”
Chairman Batte was pleased with the process: “This is really refreshing. I’ve had at least 10-15 contacts where someone has reached out with a willingness to serve, and I want to thank them for that. We certainly won’t forget that.”
By the end of the meeting, Brown had reached out to the city council via email accepting the appointment and immediately resigned his post as vice chairman of the planning board. As Brown was appointed by Batte, the chairman will begin his search for Brown’s planning board replacement immediately.
Brown will be sworn in at the Sept. 3 city council meeting.