Marco Island selects finalists for City Council seat following Young's resignation

Former Marco Island City Councilor Sam Young speaks during a council meeting on March 2, 2020.

Marco Island City Council selected three finalists Monday to fill a vacancy following the resignation of former Councilor Sam Young.

Out of five applicants, Gregory Folley, Phares Heindl and Joseph Rola were selected. The applicants who were not selected are Richard Blonna and Ronald Goldstein. 

Greg Folley is one of the finalists to occupy the seat of former City Councilor Sam Young.

Folley, a Marco Island resident for four years, wrote to Marco Eagle that his experience 40-plus as an attorney and business executive for Caterpillar Inc. makes him the ideal candidate. He served as chief human resources officer and chief innovation officer.

"I think my experience in such a variety of areas is highly unusual and will provide a unique perspective in helping the city to successfully address the issues facing it in the years to come," he wrote.

Folley wrote he wants to become a city councilor to contribute to the city he loves.

"If chosen to serve, I will do so with the recognition that government exists to serve the citizens it represents and protect their rights and liberties, first and foremost," he wrote.

Folley wrote that to one of his priorities is to assure "smart growth" while protecting the beaches, waterways and public spaces.

"I want to assure that we deliver maximum value for our citizens, [...] that all money spent drives real benefit for our city and its residents, and in a manner that minimizes the tax burden," he wrote.

Phares Heindl, former waterways advisory committee chairperson, addresses the board in 2017.

Heindl, a past member and chairperson of the city's waterways advisory committee, said he is the best candidate because of his background and advocacy for water quality.

"Sam was motivated to run for City Council because of his concern for declining water quality and associated fisheries in and around Marco Island," he wrote. "To honor the voters, City Council should chose an individual that has a strong background, interest and demonstrated advocacy for the waters of Marco Island."

Heindl holds a bachelor's of science in chemical engineering and a juris doctorate, practicing law in Florida for over thirty-five years.

He wrote that when he started with the waterways committee "the city actively opposed our involvement with water quality issues."

"With grit and determination however, with the help of people like Jim Timmerman, Sam Young and other committee members we were able to push through and transform the committee into an important voice for water and the environment," he wrote.

Water quality and the environment will be some of Heindl's top priorities. 

"Marco Island as it is today was created from a once pristine mangrove Island and it will take much active intervention to ameliorate the effects of extensive development," he wrote. "The water quality has been steadily declining as the development proceeded without taking due regard for the effects [...] in the canals and surrounding areas."

The quality of life on Marco Island is "totally dependent" on the quality of its waters, according to Heindl.

Some of his other priorities are "promoting and maintaining the small hometown community ambiance" and fiscal responsibility.  

Planning board member Joseph Rola speaks during a meeting on Oct. 4, 2019.

Joseph Rola, a Marco Island resident for 15 years, is a member of the city's planning board since 2016.

His professional experience includes two decades working with satellite communications for Raytheon Company and 15 years as computer system designer, programmer and technical unit manager for RCA, according to his application.

Rola did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Councilors will have individual appointments to interview each finalist during the week of May 25 and council will appoint one of the finalists at its June 1 meeting.

Section 3.05(3) of the city charter provides a process for filling the vacancy, according to the city.

If the remainder of the unexpired term exceeds 28 months, the remaining council members must appoint a person to fill the vacancy by a majority vote within 60 days.

Young's term would have expired Nov. 8, 2022 but the charter only allows the selected finalist to hold the position until the general election on Nov. 3 , according to city clerk Laura Litzan.

On April 23, Young resigned effective immediately.

"In accordance with City Charter rule [...] requiring permanent residency on Marco Island, I here by tender my resignation," he wrote.

Young wrote his reasons to vacate the seat are "personal in nature."

"It was an honor to have served the community of Marco Island, and I trust my votes and actions have been consistent with all those that voted me in office," he wrote. "I will be watching from a distance."

Contact Omar Rodríguez Ortiz at, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram as @Omar_fromPR. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.