Gibson eighth to announce Marco City Council candidacy

Editors’ note: This is the eighth in a series of interviews with candidates who are announcing they will run for election to the Marco Island City Council in 2008.

Jerry Gibson, a 21-year resident of Marco Island, announced his candidacy last week for City Council, bringing the count to eight candidates vying for four seats.

He joins Joe Batte, Roger Hall, Butch Neylon, Ken Allen, Frank Recker, Wayne Waldack and Andrew Guidry.

On Jan. 29, they will compete for two seats vacated by Chair Mike Minozzi and Councilor Glenn Tucker, both of whom will exit office due to term limits. Another two seats, held by councilors Terri DiSciullo and Bill Trotter, will be open for re-election, though neither has announced their intentions of running yet.

Gibson, 60, says he considered running two years ago, but decided against it when he felt enough well-qualified candidates had stepped forward.

This time around, he says, while the field is full of respectable opponents, he simply felt that the race was missing a candidate with more extensive experience as a resident.

Gibson first moved to Florida in 1970, living on the east coast for a time before visiting his mother on the island.

Gibson: 'The committee really got down to the point of frustration'

Photo by LESLIE WILLIAMS HALE, Eagle staff

Gibson: "The committee really got down to the point of frustration"

“I was one of those that, my mother was living on the island, and I stopped to spend the week, and 20 years later I’m still here,” he said.

Gibson lives on the island with his partner of 12 years, Stacy. He has one grown son and three grandsons.

He says he has been in sales most of his life, including a stint as a sales manager for a national company. When he moved to Marco, though, he took a 12-year hiatus from work “to spend days playing golf.”

He worked nights tending bar and waiting tables, and spent his summers in Europe.

Once he satisfied his wanderlust, he settled onto the island, eventually getting into real estate. Now, he is a licensed agent with Anchor Real Estate.

In the community, he sits on the board of Christmas Island Style, and is one of the board members for the Marco Disaster Fund, which helped arrange some assistance for Hurricane Katrina survivors.

He is deeply involved in his work for the Marco Island Sunrise Rotary Club, which he says emphasizes many of the same goals and attributes necessary for civil service.

“Our motto is ‘service above self,’” he said. “I really see my involvement and desire to do something for the city as an extension of that service above self. I think this island is in a very difficult time right now, and it needs someone with a level head and integrity to step up and get through the issues we’re facing.”

In 2004, he worked with other rotary members to organize a project collecting non-perishable food items for soldiers stationed overseas.

Now, he added, he wants to focus his efforts on helping his immediate community, the place he has called home for the last 21 years.

“I think every candidate out there is certainly a viable candidate,” he admitted. “But most everybody has been here four to five years or less. And that’s not to say they’re not wonderful candidates, but I certainly think experience on this island adds something.”

He says the island needs council members who can recall key arguments over key issues from five, ten, even twenty years ago. He points to the debate on the island’s sewering project as an example.

“I think the city could have done a much better job on information and communication,” he said. “But I know that attempts were made because I was here at the time. It’s important for people to look back. I know MICA (the Marco Island Civic Association) had done a number of polls years ago and the citizens were overwhelmingly receptive to going to sewers.”

It is when the city started kicking around the issue of money, he says, that support for the program soured.

“That’s when the core group started to rebel,” he explained.

He recognizes that sewers are the foremost issue in residents’ minds, but says he believes the time to hesitate on the Septic Tank Replacement Program has passed.

“Obviously, the issue, of course, is going to be the sewers,” he said. “I personally see it as two-pronged.”

He says the first aspect of the debate is the simple question of whether the island actually needs sewers.

“I think that was an issue from two years ago,” he said. “By the time we’ve gone to the polls, 85 percent of the residents on the island will be either on sewer or ready to be hooked up to sewer. I think the financial ramifications would be so huge if we were to stop it, it almost makes it a non-issue.”

The second consideration weighing on the issue, he says, is the lack of communication and the miscommunication many residents feel they have been wronged by. It has created a rift in the trust between voters and their representation, he says.

Restoring trust also has to do with repairing the divisions between residents and finding a common ground, he says.

“It’s been pitiful, the lack of decorum and decency,” he added. “Marco has always been controversial. It’s only in the last few years that it’s become embarrassingly personal. It’s broken my heart.”

He points to his experience some years ago as the president of his condo association. He moved into the small complex expecting a tight, nuclear community. Instead, he found a building split into two warring factions.

When he became president of the association, he set out to bridge that divide, something he hopes to do as a City Council member.

“I said, ‘Sometimes I’m going to agree with you, and sometimes I’m going to agree with you, but I’m not going to take sides. I’m going to do what’s right,’” he said. “All I can do is get all of the facts and make the decision of what’s best.”

He says he believes the blame for the divisiveness falls on the shoulders of citizens who launch personal attacks.

“There’s no doubt in my opinion that it’s the citizens,” he said. “I’ve been amazed actually that the council has taken some of the personal attacks leveled at them and not responded worse than they have.”

He says the council — in its entirety — should be commended for what it has done.

“There is not a councilperson serving that is not dedicated. I don’t care which side of the issue they’re on; I think the service they are providing, they cannot be thanked enough,” he said.

The same goes for outgoing City Manager Bill Moss, who Gibson says is a personal friend.

“I have a lot of respect and admiration for the job he did,” he said. “He became a lightning rod and an easy target for some people. It’s one thing to disagree with Bill, but I just feel the way he was treated by some people was disgraceful.”

While Gibson says he sees the sewers as the issue at the forefront of voters’ minds, he feels particularly concerned by the island’s infrastructure — particularly the bridges that will be in need of critical repairs or replacement in the coming decade.

“I think the major thing we’re going to face over the next few years is going to be the impact of the taxes, with revenues being reduced for the city, and how we’re going to select what parts of the infrastructure get attended to,” he added.

He doesn’t have all of the answers to this dilemma, he says, but he is prepared to tackle it as a top priority.

“Obviously you’re going to have to approach and deal with each situation as it comes,” he explained.

While Gibson has strong feelings about some of the community’s key issues, he says much of his platform will be shaped by the concerns of citizens out in the community.

“The important parts of my platform will be told to me by the people,” he said. “I can’t tell them what’s important; they have to tell me what’s important. Then, I’ll do the research.”

He says he plans to pound the pavement a lot in the coming months to learn about what the residents want and need from their City Council candidates. And he invites residents who see him out in the community — whether at a bar or the grocery store — to come discuss the issues with him.

“I see my role on the council as a long-time resident who plans to live here until the day I die,” he concluded. “And I’m here to serve the people; I’m here to communicate with the people and for the people. I’m not a politician. I never have been, and I probably will never be again. But right now, I think the city needs people like myself who have integrity.”

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 18

tptcolumbusway writes:

Mr. Gibson, why not let the people decide on the issue of sewers. I never saw the pole from MICA that you refer to that most were in favor of sewers. Can you please produce it?

Oracle writes:

Mr. Gibson, please demonstrate you integrity by producing the polls that said the residents were overwhelming in favor of going to sewers.

JohninMarco writes:

I think that Mr. Gibson has just lost this race. If he wants public trust show us the poll that said that we were so in favor of sewers. I was here too and we were never asked. I guess his good friend Bill Moss showed him the poll!

rcbauburn writes:

"he feels particularly concerned by the island’s infrastructure — particularly the bridges that will be in need of critical repairs or replacement in the coming decade."

I'm afraid to even ask.........
Does this mean that you picture the new council putting together a package that would be even more costly than the STRP and we can have all residents pay maybe $50,000 each? After all, that is how the STRP went through. We didn't have a referendum to vote on.
You see this as sewer vs. anti-sewer and I see this as bankrupting our citizens and forcing them to sell off and move away. The difference is that bridges may prove to be necessary, where sewering those on septics was not. Anyway, the plan needs to be better than that, because this time you'll be charging everyone (or will you??).
Bob Brown

jockey writes:

If you want four more years of the same crap we've "enjoyed" from Minozzi, Tucker and crew vote for Gibson, Recker and Waldack.

If you want something different vote for Batte, Hall, Neylon and Guidry.


waterday writes:

You will definitely NOT get my vote. I have lived here a long time and NEVER has anyone ask me if I would like a sewer, it was shoved on us- no one polled the entire island, maybe only Mr. Moss and his friends were polled. Please do the island a favor and take your expertise (with errors obviously) and stay at your present job. VOTE FOR NEYLON, BATTE, GUIDRY, AND HALL. They will listen to the majority of the island. They will take necessary polls and do the leg work needed to be a democracy! PLEASE DO MARCO A FAVOR AND DO NOT RUN. You will not get my vote.

DOBERMAN writes:

Not much of a Curriculum Vitae. The island needs people with proven character, integrity and leadership skills. I'm quite sure you're a nice guy, but your skills and qualifications don't meet the needs of Marco. Vote..Dr. Guidry, Neylon, Batte and Hall!

Jgibson writes:

Mr Brown - Thank you for the courtesy to sign your name to your comments. I cannot answer for the future council but I have no preconceived ideas on what the council will or should decide for this Island. What has been done has nothing to do with me. All I can offer you is the promise to look at each issue as it is presented and do the research needed to make a decision. The decisions future councils make on our infrastructure have nothing to do with the past. We must look forward to the future. Thank you again for your thoughts and courtesy in signing your name to those thoughts. - Jerry Gibson

Leroy writes:

Mr. Gibson, don't listen to these know it all complainers. All of their candidates time on this Island added together doesn't add up to your tenure on Marco Island. You are a great guy with A LOT of supporters. Learn to ignore the loud minority!

JoeFubietze writes:

OK, wait untill you hear this "loud minority" come election day! Don't remember an official poll for the STRP. Do not care what the MICA members ever chose in one of their polls. Where was the real, official poll? Think they call it a VOTE! Don't remember voting for the STRP. Nope, the city just decided to help themselves to our wallets! Biggest city issue since incorporation, and the people don't get a voice.

I, like many others, refuse to vote for anyone that does not acknowledge the fact that the way the water utilities purchase and how the STRP was presented and approved was and is WRONG! Add to that the misuse of the Glon property (think we voted for a park), the asbestos, the dewatering, etc.

This city is out of control! Only vote for a candidate that will denounce the current situations!

EdFoster writes:

I believe if you check the wording of that old MICA poll, you would find it asked whether its members (and only MICA members vote) would like a free lunch. Not surprisingly, most said yes!

Opposition to the STRP came when C.A.R.E.S., Inc. demonstrated that there were federal- and state-government approved alternatives to central sewers that are not only less expensive to implement and operate but far safer for the Marco environment. At that point, Councilor DiSciullo switched her vote from supporting sewers to opposing them and the councilors who initiated the purchase of the water/wastewater utility, to wit, Messrs. Arceri and Minozzi and Ms. Kelber, went into a full-court press to destroy my credibility and that of the organization I headed at the time.

Mr. Gibson may have lived on Marco much longer than I, but he appears to have either a selective memory or to have been unaware of what was happening at council meetings. I can't remember him speaking at one or in making his position known through the press. Could it be that he was convinced to run for council by the outgoing councilors whose legacy rides on the fate of the STRP?

Ed Foster

tptcolumbusway writes:

Ed Foster nailed it again, Mr. Gibson, since you respond to the blogs with names on them, What MICA poll are you make reference to and can you produce it? I have been a member of MICA since 2001 and I do not remember seeing the poll you speak of.

Tom Tierney
Marco Island

blondie writes:

Same old, same old, same old. Mr Gibson offers more of the same. It is time for a major change.

Oracle writes:

I am sure that Mr. Gibson is a nice guy. A former bar tender, golfer, turned real estate salesman 3 years ago, that has lived with his significant other out of wedlock for 12 years, really doesn't seem to be the kind of background a candidate needs to run a city with a budget of over $100 million dollars a year. I don't think the fact he has been on Marco for 21 years has any value. Who cares what happened in the past? We are in a major financial crises. We need people with demonstrated managerial skills to step in and solve our problems.

Our council is made up of an attorney and six people that are nice people but never amounted to anything in their lives prior to comming on the council. Unfortunately, they have proven to be very poor choices for Marco Island. Look at the mess we are in. If you want four more years of this and worse, vote for another attorney, a Kights of Columbus Minozzi clone that hasn't worked since 1995, and Mr. Gibson.

If you want to turn things around and save this island before its too late, vote for people with a demonstrated track record of success, Batte, Guidry, Hall and Neylon.

bbyrone46 writes:

Mr. Gibson, thank you for running. I thought you might be a knowledgeable reasonable fellow until I read the following: "the blame for the divisiveness falls on the shoulders of citizens who launch personal attacks." You actually believe that? If you do, then you are not very knowledgeable. Whatever happened to the now defunct organization "Celebrate Marco" whose members advocated "shooting" those who disagreed with the four majority Council members? I also recall Councilman Tucker admitting he lied when he accused our citizens of planting harmful asbestos by the ton. How about the way our Council uses deceit to promote the STRP? Come to think of it, I do not recall your face at any Council meetings. I also do not recall you ever speaking in support of our Council at their meetings. If you know of a good valid reason that you can document for the STRP, I would appreciate your sharing that with our cititizens because the City itself cannot do that. Also, please let us know why our City is spending so much of our money for things we do not need at this time. Good luck with your quest and please try to not personally attack the charactor of any other candidate. - Byron Erickson

Lolala writes:

Jerry, when you get all the answers to the "dilemma", then you can run for City Council. All the others have offered something and know exactly what they are going to do. Some are going to start treating our citizens like human beings and stop abusing them. Others are thinking of keeping their hands out of our pockets. One promises to look after our health and welfare. A group of five fellows all promise to prioritize our needs based on basic infrastructure and how much we can afford with what we have. Four fellows believe they have found a way to cut the costs of our new sewers significantly. Two little fellows and yourself like the way the current Council has been functioning and want to continue with that. So what is it you are going to do? Build bridges? Toll bridges? lots of luck with that.

EdFoster writes:

Mr. Tierney:

I too have been a member of MICA since 2001 and I don't remember voting in that poll either and I always vote in a MICA poll. Apparently, the poll was conducted some time in the last century.

Ed Foster

waterday writes:

I am also a MICA member been a member for a very long time. I have never seen this poll. I guess only the friends of Bill Moss was given the poll, must have been a selective group.

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