MARCO ISLAND — Marco Island City Councilor Larry Magel resigned his position Wednesday, effective immediately.
The reason? He won’t be a Marco Island resident come fall.
Magel and his wife Joanna are moving to Windermere, an upscale town in the Orlando area, to be closer to family members, he said. They expect to move in September and, by stepping aside right away, Magel said he is giving his successor an opportunity to be part of two important issues facing the council: setting the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins October 1, and choosing a new city manager to replace Jim Riviere, who is stepping down Sept. 30.
“I could have stayed on until I was no longer physically a resident of Marco Island, but it’s important for the new councilor to get some grounding in budget operations, and to fully participate in the selection of the new chief executive,” he said. “I could have stayed on, but my replacement would have come in cold. It wouldn’t make sense for me to cast a vote on the new city manager.”
Magel tendered his resignation in writing to Council Chairman Joe Batte, in accordance with the city’s charter.
He was elected to the council in March 2010, and served as chairman in 2012. In the aftermath of the 2012 elections, which saw four incumbent council members leave through defeat at the polls or term limits, Magel has found himself on the losing side of lopsided votes.
Since Magel is more than halfway through his current term, his replacement will be chosen by a vote of the remaining six councilmen. That could come as soon as Monday’s council meeting, but will likely take longer.
Magel retired in 2001 as executive director of an 800-attorney law firm in New York City. He and his wife have had a home on Marco Island since 1989, and moved to the island full time in 2007 after selling their vacation home in North Carolina. Magel is currently a member of the Physicians Regional Hospital Advisory Board and past president of the Island Country Club. Prior to being elected to council, he served on the city’s Utility Advisory Committee and Charter Review Committee.
Magel said he is proud to have helped steer Marco Island through a turbulent period.
“During my tenure, we had the worst economic times any of us can remember. Every year, we returned a budget surplus, and held our millage rate the same, even with our assessed property values dropping eight and 10 percent.”
Now, he said, the city has low debt, and “great ratings from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s. We’ll end this year with another million-dollar surplus. That makes me pretty happy.”
Batte praised Magel’s service to the community.
“Councilor Magel has been an exceptional leader in our city, working on many boards and committees, and his outstanding work on the City Council has resulted in numerous organizational and fiscal benefits to out citizenry. Many of us will miss his sober, professional approach to solving the problems Council has had to face during his term of office,” Batte said in a statement.
Riviere called Magel’s resignation a “major loss in terms of our ability to have bright minds solve difficult problems.” “Larry Magel has always had a moderating approach to his legislative technique,” she said.
Riviere did not speculate on who might fill Magel’s seat, but did say he would like to see a female candidate.
“It’s been all males for so long,” he said.
When asked, City Clerk Laura Litzan mentioned one possible candidate for Magel’s vacant seat.
“One person just came to mind, who I think everyone would say is a great choice. Fay Biles (president of the Marco Island Taxpayers Association) has been to every council meeting since the city began,” she said.