MARCO ISLAND — Marco City Councilman Chuck Kiester, 69, eyes a long-term planning initiative for Marco as he vies for reelection among four candidates seeking three open seats. He is best known for opposing the Septic Tank Replacement Program (STRP) when he believed upgrades to the then-recently purchased water utility should have been the priority, but now, he is eying Marco’s future. The former planner from the Midwest shares one of his principles that guides his perspective on Marco’s future. “As in all ecosystems, community diversity equals stability,” Kiester says.
When it comes to spending, Kiester says needs are coming before wants. “At this point in time, with the losses all of us have taken due to the recession, my position is that none of us, including the city, can afford to fund anything more than basic services.”
Kiester said he plans to be at the Old Bombay Club on Bald Eagle Drive Tuesday night anticipating the election results with his supporters.
Live at Old Bombay Club
Updated at 7:27
Moments after Kiester laid out his vision for Marco Island's future, his own future in island politics became clouded and uncertain.
With the top three vote getters winning council seats, Kiester was tied in a virtual dead heat for the third slot with his fellow incumbent Ted Forcht.
"There's going to be a recount," Kiester told his supporters. He announced the numbers that had come from the election supervisor's office. Magel led with 3,745, and Beatty was second with 3,535, but the only numbers that counted for the Kiester camp was the nine vote margin separating him from Forcht - 3,481 for Kiester to 3,472 for Forcht. The crowd sat down to dinner, and resigned themselves to not knowing the outcome till the recount is completed - Thursday, Kiester said.
Updated at 7:15
Dozens of supporters joined Chuck Kiester at a private party upstairs at the Bombay Club to wait for the election results. Talk and drinks flowed, and the crowd seemed upbeat and relaxed.
"It's been a pretty low-key campaign for the most part," said Kiester, "but I think it'll be a close race. We didn't have a burning issue like the STRP on the ballot to get people all excited.
Kiester noted that, "One of the camps recommended their supporters bullet vote - cast only one vote, rather than the three they are allowed."
Jack Patterson, a supporter of Larry Magel, had pushed the strategy in a letter to the editor, he said.
Kiester laid out his priorities for a second term, should he be favored by the voters.
"Short term, I want to get a handle on the city's financial situation." In the past four years, he said, Marco Island had accumulated a load of debt, most of which he had voted against, Kiester said.
"Long term, I want to turn this island around. You shouldn't have to go off island to buy every toothbrush," he said. "I want a population base large enough to support small businesses."