MARCO ISLAND — Candidates who win the popular votes don’t always win the election, but on Marco Island, the popular candidates seem to have won.
Councilman Rob Popoff was unanimously elected chairman of the council by his peers at the Monday evening meeting. The election mirrored the results of the marconews.com poll, which granted, is not scientific. None the less, on line readers voted most for Popoff, as the man they believed would make the best chairman.
Popoff received 100 percent of the council votes Monday and 41 percent of the online votes, which began Friday.
“It’s a real honor to have seven of my fellow councilors put faith in me,” he said.
One of his greatest priorities is to listen to the public, he added.
“We’re going to open up the lines of communication so people really feel they’re being heard. We’re going to work on that,” Popoff said in an interview after the election.
He plans to look into the possibility of adding public comment earlier in meetings, so people don’t have to wait until the end. He also said he will consider an extension of the four-minute time limit placed on each public speaker. However, keeping meeting length reasonable is also a consideration, Popoff said.
Meetings are being set up between Popoff, City Manager Steve Thompson and City Attorney Alan Gabriel.
“I want to find out the best qualities about some of the good chairs we’ve had,” Popoff said of the intent of that meeting.
Another plan, which Popoff said “may seem minor” but is important to him, is to acknowledge Islanders who contribute in unique ways to Marco Island by giving them the honor to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at Council meetings.
“It may be students, people like Fay Biles, who attend every meeting, or someone who has served in the military,” Popoff said.
Above all else, “honor, dignity and decorum in the council chambers” are the new Chairman’s priorities, he said.
Former Chairman Bill Trotter echoed the sentiments of the other councilors when he said the group works as a “great team and everyone supports each other.”
Popoff said he hopes to emulate Trotter’s “unflappable” steady voice even during discussion of heated topics.
Vice Chairman Frank Recker was re-elected for another year, unanimously by his peers. Readers at marconews.com also seemed to support the re-election. Councilman Chuck Kiester was also a popular choice for vice chair in the online poll.
“I’m honored that (councilors) were pleased with my performance this last year,” Recker said of his re-election as vice chair.
He added that the “camaraderie on the dais” is great.
“I think with the chemistry we have, we’ll have an even better year next year. As we should, we have a lot of serious business to deal with,” Recker said.
While the septic tank replacement system was among the most controversial issues, which seems to have been relatively accepted now after several years of community disagreement, other issues such as a city operated electric utility and city finances are among the “business” issues yet to be completely settled.
Recker received 22 percent of the online votes for both the chairman’s seat and the vice chair’s seat. Here are the remainder of the online poll results to the question “Who do you think would make the best Marco City Council Chairman?”
Keep the (2008) Chairman Bill Trotter 5 percent; 2008 Vice Chairman Frank Recker 22 percent; Councilman Rob Popoff 41 percent; Councilman Wayne Waldack 4 percent; Councilman Ted Forcht 13 percent; Councilman Chuck Kiester 10 percent and Councilman Jerry Gibson 2 percent. There were 89 total votes in the poll for chairman.
There were 45 votes cast for vice chairman in the non-scientific online poll. The results were: 2008 Chairman Bill Trotter 8 percent; Keep the current Vice Chairman Frank Recker 22 percent; Councilman Rob Popoff 24 percent; Councilman Wayne Waldack 2 percent; Councilman Ted Forcht 15 percent; Councilman Chuck Kiester 24 percent and Councilman Jerry Gibson 2 percent.