Hiller time: Georgia takes over as Collier Commission chair

William DeShazer/Staff
County commissioner Georgia Hiller takes over as chairman for county commissioner Fred Coyle during the county commission meeting at the Collier Government Center on Tuesday Dec. 11, 2012.

Photo by WILLIAM DESHAZER // Buy this photo

William DeShazer/Staff County commissioner Georgia Hiller takes over as chairman for county commissioner Fred Coyle during the county commission meeting at the Collier Government Center on Tuesday Dec. 11, 2012.

She does a lot of the talking in commission meetings. Now, she controls the gavel, too.

Commissioner Georgia Hiller was named commission chairwoman Tuesday, after commissioners voted unanimously to remove Commissioner Fred Coyle from the position.

Commissioners have to name a new chair in January, per the county’s ordinance. However, they chose to remove Coyle a month early from his term.

The item was placed on the agenda by Commissioner Tom Henning, but Coyle gave the motion his support.

“I am happy to be done,” said Coyle, who was on his third term as chair. “If they didn’t support the motion, I would have resigned.”

Hiller was all smiles as she accepted her new role and congratulations from her fellow commissioners and staff.

“Can I switch seats? I would love to sit in the middle,” Hiller said to laughter in the audience, as she and Coyle traded places.

Hiller then made a motion to appoint Henning vice chairman to take over the position vacated by former Commissioner Jim Coletta, who left office last month. That motion also carried unanimously.

“Thank you. I love my seat,” Henning joked.

Commissioner Tim Nance, who was sworn in during Tuesday's meeting, said he is not looking for anything specific from Hiller as chairwoman, but said a change is good.

“I think some of the seated commissioners have had long-standing concerns that are now going to be addressed,” he said.

As for his successor, Coyle said he will get “a lot of amusement” from watching Hiller.

“It’s going to be hilarious,” he said.

Hiller and Henning will technically be the chair and vice chair for one month before commissioners have to vote for the positions again, but Hiller said Tuesday she was confident she would keep the seat in 2013.

Noreen Murray, a constituent of Hiller’s who was present to speak on another matter, told Hiller she was happy the new chair was a woman and that the chair would come from District 2, where she lived. Hiller represents North Naples, including Pelican Bay.

County Manager Leo Ochs said the commission chair position is largely ceremonial.

“There is no extraordinary veto power or direct influence,” he said, although he did say the chair gets to set time certain items to accommodate constituents. “We execute policy decisions made by the majority of the board.”

Ochs said the biggest change will be in style of running the meeting. He also said the chair can bring new ideas to make the commission more efficient, including how the agenda is formatted.

“I welcome any new ideas,” he said.

As for what those ideas might be, the public will have to wait. Hiller would not comment in person and asked that all questions from the Daily News be asked via email. She had not responded to emailed questions by late Tuesday.

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