Planning board member who pleaded no contest to trying to buy cocaine could run for commission
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- For the first time in its history, New Smyrna Beach could see three candidates lay claim to seats on the City Commission without opposition with the clock ticking ever so closer to the end of qualifying. This follows the trend of the 2012 election when two seats went uncontested.
And with qualifying ending noon, Friday, June 290, the clocking is ticking.
As expected, two incumbents are laying claim to seats on the dais: Judy Reiker is going for a second four-year term as the zone 1 commissioner, but zone 2 incumbent Jack Grasty is giving up the chance for a third term for a shot at being mayor.
That's because two-term Mayor Adam Barringer, coming of a year of battling ethics complaints and mired in personal debt with more than $58,000 in unpaid taxes and a huge judgment against his construction company as well as the closing of one of his restaurants his the closing of one of his restaurants.
Ironically, it was the mayor who ran uncontested two years ago as did Jason McGuirk, who ran for the commission seat that incumbent Jim Hathaway gave up to run for the County Council seat that was up for grabs with incumbent Joie Alexander of Port Orange term-limited.
Hathaway won the August primary over former School Board member Deb Denys and first-term Edgewater Councilman Justin Kennedy. But in the November run-off, Denys beat Hathaway.
With Grasty slotted in the mayor's seat, an outsider Jacob Sachs, filed for Grasy's zone 2 seat. And while McGuirk was a hand-picked insider o Barringer and Hathaway, Sachs, a beachside resident, whose connection to City Hall was lobbying for lower posted speed limits, has no connection to the incumbents.
Then again, neither did Kirk Jones, who beat two other candidates in the primary for a seat on the commission two years ago, replacing Lynne Plaskett who opted not to seek a fourth term.
Jones spoke up at a meeting a year ago when the scandal in the police force with more than 900 missing items, but after rhat meeting, which included a verbal assault by City Manager Pamela Brangaccio on citizen watchdog Bob Tolley for questioning whether the elected officials were being properly informed.
Since then, however, Jones has fallen in line with the other elected officials like Grasty, Reiker and McGuirk, voting for continued Community Redevelopment Agency expenditures for improvements to bars and funding for media advertising for alchol-fueled bar crawls that culminated in a DUI-related fatality of 32-year-old Riccilynn Rigoli of Port Orange on the South Causeway Bridge following the Cinco de Mayo festival.
The five incumbents also supported $65,000 in CRA taxpayer funds for bar impriovements for the mayor's childhood friend, Dave Fernandez, of Trader's Bar on Flagler Avenue, well known to the cops and criminal courts as well for his run-ins with the law.
Grasty, Reiker, McGuirk and Jones also supported appointment to the planning board of the mayor's longtime friend, Stephen Sather, despite his 1994 no contest plea in circuit court to trying to purchase a large quantity of cocaine from an undercover cop posing as a drug dealer.
Adjudication of guilt was withheld, but Sather was sentenced tio several years of probation after "cooperating" in the subsequent drug investigation.
Sather challenged Grasty in the 2009 elections, but came in last among three candidates, with retired cop Palmer Wilson finishing second. Headline Surfer® broke the story on Sather's past with drugs, leading Grasty to say of his candidacy, "His record speaks for itself."
Sather did not return messages for comment and has declined comment previously. Grasty and Reiker also declined comment on their candidacies or their support of Sather.
Should Sather, indeed run, as several inside sources at City Hall have told Headline Surfer®, he'd be challenging Sachs, the newcomer to municipal politics.
Sachs declined comment on Sather's possible candidacy, saying he doesn't know anything about him other than what he's read online. Headline Surfer® has a separate upcoming profile story on Sachs as well as a story on Mayor Barringer's extensive tax debts.