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Sebastian voters to decide on City Council, charter amendments

Will voters elect to keep 3 incumbents who took office after 2020 recall vote?
Posted at 5:48 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 17:54:41-04

SEBASTIAN, Fla. — Voters in Sebastian are deciding whether to keep three incumbents on the City Council who took office after a recall vote in 2020.

Tuesday's election comes just six weeks after two former council members were sentenced to jail time.

For a time Tuesday, voters actually had to line up outside to wait to cast their ballots.

"We always, you know, enjoy the rights that we have to vote and we feel like our voice should count," voter Connie Phillips said.

Some first-time municipal voters were unaware of the recent past.

"I just moved here last year, so, you know, hoping they do a good job," Ron Taroski said.

The Sebastian City Council was in turmoil last year.

Three council members were charged with holding an illegal meeting in April 2020, voting to remove the mayor and fire several city leaders. All three were recalled.

Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris were both sentenced to jail time after a jury convicted them of perjury and Sunshine Law violations.

Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris found guilty
Former Sebastian council members Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris have been found guilty of violating Florida's Sunshine Law.

Charles Mauti reached a plea deal.

Voters have to decide whether to keep their replacements — Christopher Nunn, Fred Jones and Bob McPartlan.

The other candidates are Gilliams' son, Damien Lee Fey Gilliams, Sherrie Matthews and Clint Phipps.

Not only are there six candidates vying for three seats. There are also eight charter amendments voters have to address.

A 16-member nonpartisan citizen committee spent six months reviewing the city charter, something done every five years.

The committee came up with eight potential charter amendments, some created in response to what happened last year.

One would allow the council to have a hearing to suspend council members charged with crimes connected to their duties in office.

'City of Sebastian, Home of Pelican Island' sign

Another would limit any "special meetings" to one topic and require reasonable notice.

"We had council members (who) were calling a special meeting and then coming in with a laundry list of things that they wanted to talk about," Chairwoman Beth Mitchell said.

Some voters who spoke with WPTV liked the fact that the past year has been marked by a lack of in-fighting among council members.

"Seem to be very smart and make good decisions for the city," voter Dave Foster said.

As to the former council members, Gilliams was given six months in jail and Parr was sentenced to 90 days. They were both allowed to post bond while they appeal.