published: Friday, October 18, 2013
AP candidates address issues
By PHIL ATTINGER
AVON PARK -- Two tickets have emerged in the race for city government in Avon Park, which will be decided on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The incumbents favor the changes made since Julian Deleon was instated as city manager. The two challengers have said they want to see city hall and the Avon Park City Council be more open to the public's questions and desires.
These views came out Tuesday during the candidates' forum held at the Avon Park Community Center and hosted by the Avon Park Chamber of Commerce.
Code Enforcement Officer Greg Warner is challenging Mayor Sharon Schuler, while local gun shop owner Jonathan Remick -- who holds a masters of business administration and is new to public service -- is challenging Councilman Parke Sutherland, local attorney.
Both Schuler and Sutherland said they are happy to see Deleon bring down the city's debt and taxes, increase city limits and utilities customers through annexation and establish a "pattern of growth."
Schuler said the city will be debt-free in December. She recalls the city having "tremendous debt" when she first elected to the city council in 1994.
She also favors the new curbside recycling and aggressive annexation program -- which she has wanted to see for 18 years.
Sutherland is also pleased the current administration has lowered taxes and increased utility income through both annexation and by taking private utilities into the city system.
Warner and Remick both agreed the city council, through Deleon, has done a lot for the city, but don't agree with the approach.
Remick said the city needs more channels of communication, including allowing more public input at city council meetings, publishing agendas early to help people plan to attend and using social media to reach residents.
"I want to have more voices heard," Remick said.
Sutherland countered that he gets frustrated by not enough feedback from residents.
"We get a vocal minority (at meetings)," Sutherland said. "I have to seek my input."
Schuler said she encourages people to call her and chided people who don't participate.
"We need people to show up," she said.
Warner said cutting costs has resulted in reduced service through fewer workers.
When asked if development or annexation are happening too fast, Schuler and Sutherland said it could go faster.
Remick said he would like land get developed inside the city limits before adding on more, including trying to attract large distribution centers.
Sutherland said whether land gets developed or not depends on landowners, not the city.
Wagner said the city sat stagnant for a long time and annexing is good if people want it. He said economic development should start with getting stores into the downtown area before considering gateway arches or other cosmetic improvements.
When audience questions touched on Deleon's handling of city affairs, Warner criticized Deleon as "not a people person."
However, he also said that as long as Deleon could keep the city running smoothly, he wouldn't have any problem with him.
Remick also said Deleon is a good project manager who does the will of the council.
"He's done that to a 'T'," Remick said.
However, he considers Deleon's behavior in meetings as "unprofessional" including walking around or chuckling into the microphone during others' comments.
Even Schuler said Deleon has "made waves" by not operating in a conventional manner, but said he has done what was asked.
She also noted that several people who didn't like the changes hate Deleon and are not apt to agree with his actions or methods.
"Could we alter his delivery? Sure. Who doesn't have issues?" Sutherland said.
However, he said Deleon would have a "thicker skin" with age and experience, and that he has withstood accusations of wrongdoing.
When asked about allegations of fear tactics from Deleon, Schuler said such tactics would need to be proven. Sutherland added that the allegations haven't stood up to investigation.
Schuler also said if council members are displeased with Deleon, they can fire him. However, if they try to take over the city manager's oversight of personnel issues, the city would need to change the charter to a strong mayor form of government, she said.
Warner said the city council has authority by the city charter to investigate such allegations and needs to do so.
Still, Warner also said the election is not so much about Deleon as the direction the city will take. He said he wants to bring new ideas to the council.
my ideas (by: lbermuz - 10/19/2013)
Bubba = greed, unions, big wages, bug pensions.
No Way (by: Bronco Billy - 10/19/2013)
No way are we voting for Avon Park to go back to the way it was before! Locking the hubs n' kicking it into 4wd and going all the way with Schuler & Sutherland --------)Bang!
Tired (by: Jim Barnard - 10/19/2013)
I guess you are to TIRED to man up and put your real name with your opinion. Show up at the next city council meeting and present your self,otherwise, no one can take you for a real person. Bring a pillow.
Of course (by: tired - 10/19/2013)
Barnard ran for council under the wing of Parke Sutherland, He lost. He was placed on the pension board by Julian (no surprise there). He does what he is told . I cannot take what you say very seriously.
Parlor Tricks (by: Blindman~ - 10/18/2013)
Basically you have a MINI-MOB DISTURBANCE in Avon Park supporting TWO NEW CHALLENGERS to the City council. The NEW CHALLENGERS repeatedly play up THE DISTURBANCE in town through the media while claming to be the only ones who can restore order. It's an old politicians' trick that lead to the fall of an entire country... and you know the rest of the story~
change (by: dumsouthsider - 10/18/2013)
A vote for Warner and Remick, is a vote for change. The Southside, votes for change.
Agree with Jim Barnard (by: S & S all the way! - 10/18/2013)
New ideas, fresh perspectives... anyone can say those catch phrases but no one has heard any actual new ideas!
No Notice of Meeting (by: Joe Macy - 10/18/2013)
WOW. I didn't know they were having this meeting to know the new people running for seats in AP government. I did not see any advertisements on the newspaper that this was happening. Kind of wonder if they did not wanted a big turn over. Too bad I missed it. All I can say is good luck with all four of them. I lean more towards Warner and Remick by reading this article.
New Ideas (by: Jim Barnard - 10/18/2013)
It seems a little strange to me that that both Bubba and Remick want to make a change but hardly ever show up at a city council meeting.Mr. Remick wants more public input, ask him how many meetings he has been in the last three years. I saw him once and I go to almost all meetings, plus P&Z and Police pension. Has he volunteered to do anything but sell GUNS in this city.Both agree the city has moved forward in the last three years. Stick with experience and proven excellent decisions.
Exercising my right (by: Rebecca - 10/18/2013)
I live in Avon Park and I'm voting to keep Schuler & Sutherland.
Just so you know (by: Blindman~ - 10/18/2013)
Jonathan Remick is not a local gun shop owner... Dean & Robert Remick are the registered owners. Jonathan works there as a family member.
Proven Leadership (by: Good Luck - 10/18/2013)
Mayor Schuler and Sutherland have our vote!
AP Candidates (by: voter - 10/18/2013)
I was very impressed with new comer Remmick. He is very eager to learn the City business and he spoke about open communication which is a big no no at City Hall. Remmick has very good ideas. Warner is so good with people skills. He puts others at ease and he is truly a problem solver. These two guys will bring peace and trust back to the City.
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