Eight months ago, if you asked residents what the major problem was in the City of Sebastian, they would tell you the annexation. Fast forward today, and the citizens will say Council members Damien Gilliams, Charles Mauti, and Pamela Parris.
Sebastian Daily reached out to all candidates running for Indian River County Commissioner to discuss the problems going on in Sebastian since last November’s election. We received responses from Laura Moss, Bob Auwaerter, and Joe Earman.
- Laura Moss – Indian River County Commissioner District 5
- Bob Auwaerter – Indian River County Commissioner District 5
- Joe Earman – Indian River County Commissioner District 3
Laura Moss said she had major concerns for Sebastian after the illegal meeting on April 22nd, when Council members Damien Gilliams, Pamela Parris, and Vice Mayor Charles Mauti tried to fire city staff and remove Ed Dodd as the Mayor. The trio then tried to appoint Gilliams as the new Mayor, a move that ultimately faced public outcry with Sebastian residents.
Moss called Sebastian Mayor Ed Dodd to express her concern and support for him a day after the alleged “coup.” Moss said the Sebastian Annexation spawned much of the discord in what we see today. Moreover, Moss said she knows people who now regret voting for the three candidates last November.
“I do know some people who while originally in favor of the change in Council members last November, then later, upon seeing what it had wrought, came to regret it. The recall has been so vigorously pursued is evidence of this,” Laura Moss, candidate for Indian River County Commissioner District 5, told Sebastian Daily.
Moss said she spoke recently with Sebastian residents and understood their concerns about the City Council. Local citizens also addressed the problem with qualified candidates.
“My heart goes out to the people of Sebastian, who have had to endure a City government in turmoil while facing the daily challenges of COVID-19. Having spoken recently with Sebastian residents, I understand their concern that to-date the Governor has not responded to the request for suspension of three council members. While the second round of the recall is nearing completion, there is a well-founded fear that its timeline will result in all five seats of Sebastian City Council being up for election in November,” Moss added.
Bob Auwaerter, the Vice Mayor of the Town of Indian River Shores, says the City Council meetings with Damien Gilliams are chaotic.
“Damien Gilliams has hijacked meetings to rehash what appear to be very old personal grudges or issues. He has brought meetings to a halt with presentations on old items that are very difficult to follow and are laborious. These meetings have become multi-hour marathons where real issues are not properly vetted, discussed, and decided upon. The chaos on the dais has become contagious. The Councilwoman (Pamela Parris) does not come to the meeting prepared to provide independent viewpoints on issues,” Bob Auwaerter, candidate for Indian River County Commissioner District 5, told Sebastian Daily.
Auwaerter said he chaired Council meetings for Indian River Shores, where they exchanged ideas in a very professional manner. The Council is professional and courteous so that the people’s business gets done. When watching the City Council meetings in Sebastian, Auwaerter says the governance mechanism is broken because of Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris.
“The governance mechanism for the City of Sebastian is broken. Important decisions are not being made. The reputation of the City has suffered. Multiple members of the City Council face criminal charges. It was appropriate for the City Council to ask Governor Ron DeSantis to suspend Council Members Gilliams and Parris. If I were a Sebastian voter, I would vote in favor of the recall,” Auwaerter added.
Joe Earman says it’s a shame that Sebastian citizens are being put through this by elected officials who can’t carry out general City business because of its current environment.
“I think it’s terrible, its a shame that the citizens of Sebastian are being put through this, and proper governing by an elected City Council is not being carried out as it should. Elected officials work for the citizens they represent, and there are important issues that need to be addressed and general city business that needs to be taken care of. This can’t be done in this kind of environment,” Joe Earman, candidate for Indian River County Commissioner District 3, told Sebastian Daily.
Earman said it’s a sad time for Sebastian, and it’s the residents who are suffering.
“If the charges filed by the State Attorney are found to be valid, then the law and the Governor should take action and remove them from office. The recall should continue as long as it is done properly,” Earman added.
Earman also stated that he supports the recall group trying to remove Charles Mauti, Damien Gilliams, and Pamela Parris from public office.
“This is truly a matter of the will of the people should be heard and honored. I support and commend them in their efforts,” Earman said.
A couple of weeks ago, we asked Brian Barefoot about Damien Gilliams since he once endorsed him until Gilliams became too controversial. Barefoot is running for Indian River County School Board District 5.
“I am baffled by his constant attacks on Sebastian city employees and fellow council members, making allegations without any proof,” Barefoot told Sebastian Daily.
Some of the baseless allegations by Gilliams is obviously about the sugar sand or telling the public that Jim Hill and Mayor Ed Dodd are leaders of the PAC group attempting to recall him.
“I am told there are other Sebastian residents who were supporters but have abandoned him because of his disruptive nature and bizarre behavior,” Barefoot added.
For now, residents either wait for the Governor to take action, or they recall them. Either way, Sebastian citizens have had enough of the three council members breaking laws. Their behavior could soon cost the city millions of dollars in litigation.