Marco City Council race marked by negativity, ethics complaints

Paul Meyer. Submitted

Paul Meyer. Submitted

Kenneth Honecker

Kenneth Honecker

Larry Sacher

Larry Sacher

Larry Honig. Submitted

Larry Honig. Submitted

Amadeo R. Petricca. Submitted

Amadeo R. Petricca. Submitted

Frank Recker

Photo by Kelly Farrell

Frank Recker

Wayne Waldack. File

Wayne Waldack. File

Jerry Gibson. File

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Jerry Gibson. File

One former city council candidate described running for office on Marco Island as "political quicksand."

Another candidate has filed ethics complaints against the city manager and council chairman, saying they used their positions to sway voters.

With less than two weeks until the Nov. 6, election, the eight-man race for four council seats has grown increasingly contentious. Some residents and candidates are concerned the negativity is bad for the city's image and could cause future candidates to rethink running for election.

"I don't think it speaks well of who we are," said Mary Ann Maniace, a part-time resident who has been involved with several Marco boards and committees. She called this election the most negative race she's seen since moving to Marco Island in 2002.

"This is a wonderful place to live," Maniace said. "I'm just concerned that once the election's over, will we have any harmony?"

Paul Meyer, a 51-year-old air conditioning contractor, had never run for public office before announcing his candidacy for one of the four open council positions. But he said the experience made him view the city as dysfunctional.

In a letter to local media explaining his decision to drop out of the race, he said he had been "fired at from all sides."

Condo owners are pitted against homeowners, he said, young families spar with the retired, the YMCA competes with the city's park and recreational services, and not even the police and fire departments see eye to eye. He said he felt hopeless about finding common ground.

"That is why I believe I am the smartest candidate for stepping out of this race for a thankless job that pays a whopping $6,000 a year," he wrote. "I prefer to live in peace and happiness than to sink into the political quicksand for the next four years."

Meyer said he had no problems with the other candidates, but saw no chance for the island's various factions to reach a consensus on any topic.

"I don't need to be in the middle of a fire storm all the time," he said. "And it'll be that way for four years."

Another candidate, Larry Sacher, a 63-year-old retiree with a finance background, filed two complaints recently with the Florida Commission on Ethics after he said City Manager James Riviere and Council Chairman Larry Magel used their positions to sway voters.

In his complaint, Sacher said Magel sent letters to Marco residents saying Sacher and two other candidates were against condo owners. Sacher said Riviere used the city's email listserv to send an opinion piece by candidate Frank Recker to Marco residents and city staff.

"I don't expect the ethics commission to do anything ..." Sacher said. "My main objective was to demonstrate to the people of Marco Island how our council chairman operates and how our city manager operates."

The state commission would neither confirm nor deny that the complaints had been received, but Complaints Manager Kaye Starling said it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to process a complaint before it becomes public record.

Magel declined comment on the ethics complaints, citing the ongoing investigation. Attempts to reach Riviere for comment were unsuccessful.

Fellow candidates said the negativity is unfortunate, and could make other residents decide not to run in the future.

Recker, whose email was forwarded through the city's listserv, said he did not know the city planned to send his opinion piece to residents. He added that elections should not be so antagonistic and negative.

"But as long as they are, many potentially great candidates will not attempt to run for office," he said. "They simply do not want to expose themselves to such reckless, derogatory attacks emanating from political candidates or their supporters."

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Comments » 6

marco826 writes:

I've seen Politics and how ugly it can be. Not just here, everywhere. People are mean spirited and self serving. Marco is not exempt. Personal attacks is their ammo. A good family man like Paul Meyer had his heart in the right place to help his community and would have done a good job. They poisoned him and the perpetrators have no shame. it is concealed by their ignorance.

26yearsonmarco writes:

HAPPY HALOWEEN TO KLAUS:

T’was the night before elections, And all thru' the town, Tempers were flaring, Emotions ran up and down.

I, in my bathrobe, With a cat in my lap, Had shut off the TV, tired of political crap.
When all of a sudden, There arose such a noise, I peered out my window, Saw Obama and his boys
They had come for my wallet, They wanted my pay, To hand out to others, Who had not worked a day!
He snatched up my money, And quick as a wink, Jumped back on his bandwagon as I gagged from the stink.
He then rallied his henchmen who were pulling his cart. I could tell they were out to tear my country apart!
On Fannie, on Freddie, On Biden and Ayers! On Acorn, on Pelosi' He screamed at the pairs!
They took off for his cause, And as they flew out of sight, I heard him laugh at a nation who wouldn't stand up and fight! So I leave you to think on this one final note...

IF YOU DON'T WANT SOCIALISM,

GET OUT AND VOTE!!!

MrBreeze writes:

Mr.Meyer needs to realize this is not a game of touch football. Decesions that are made by the Council effect all of us on this island and we need people who can and make the right choices.

Also, the comment about the 6,000 dollar salary is weak. The pay should be ZERO dollars. People should serve for the want and good of the community not the pay involved.

Thank you Mr. Meyer for dropping out you realized that the gig was not for you and I respect that but please do not refer to the pay as a reason that sounds weak to me.

RayNetherwood writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

WizeOlMarco writes:

For the past 129 years the Florida Constitution has included a statement opposing the State sending money to religious organizations. This year you get to remove that part of the State Constitution. This march to State theocracy is ironic in light of the US effort to unwind Middle East theocracy. Try something novel; think about it. When common purpose no longer exists there is no reason for 'United' anyone. As a population we are getting there.

RayNetherwood writes:

What have you idiots deleted? Your censoring is out of control. Put it up and then explain the decision to censor.

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