The TC Palm: Sebastian council candidates participate in hour long debate

Posted on October 10, 2014

SEBASTIAN — The working waterfront project, All Aboard Florida and the environment were the top issues tackled by the five candidates for the Sebastian City Council at a candidate’s forum Thursday night.


The forum was hosted by the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce at Sebastian City Hall. About 25 people attended the forum, which was moderated by chamber member Theresa Tolle.


Thirty different questions on five topics were prepared for the forum, according to Beth Mitchell, president/CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. It was the eighth time the chamber sponsored the event.


Sebastian voters will be selecting two council members Nov. 4. Two incumbents — Jerome Adams and Jim Hill — are seeking new terms. Other candidates include local businessman Damien Gilliams; Ed Herlihy, city budget advisory committee chairman; and Albert Lovino, public safety officer.


Gilliams said he equates the health of the Indian River Lagoon with the quality of life.


“I am going to hold staff’s feet to the fire to get things done,” Gilliams said. “This waterfront is our jewel.”


Herlihy said he would focus his effort on installing baffle boxes along the riverfront to make sure stormwater runoff was cleaned before it entered into the lagoon. Hill added that it’s important to make stormwater leaving the city cleaner and if there’s proof something is going to benefit the lagoon, it should be implemented quickly.


Adams said the lagoon is what draws people to Sebastian, and drives the economy through direct and indirect employment. And Lovino said the city needs to continue developing local ordinances to protect both the Indian River and the lagoon.


All five candidates agreed that it’s imperative to stay abreast of the developments of All Aboard Florida, and to fight for safety improvements and quiet zones.


“I’m 110 percent against All Aboard Florida,” Lovino said. “I think it’s going to bring more pollution and crime.”


The working waterfront project drew mixed reviews from the candidates. Hill and Adams said it will be an asset to the community, while Gilliams said it was a waste of tax dollars.


Other questions fielded by the candidates during the hourlong forum included property taxes, the downtown Community Redevelopment Area, the need for revisions to the land development code and the condition of city roadways and stormwater systems.

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