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Those watching the Village Council meeting last Tuesday night, witnessed a disagreement involving councilmembers over the process - and candidates - for the Village Manager’s job. Then two of the councilmembers at the forefront of the discussions – Luis Lauredo and Brett Moss – met this week to sort of clear the air.

The fact that they met in a Sunshined meeting, as per Florida law, is not news in itself. That is “chat fodder” -- ammunition for those who seek to highlight island controversy and divisiveness. And those criticisms diminish the fact we are blessed to have so many people willing to serve this community – without compensation - purely for the betterment of the island.

The fact that this “new” council’s early term has been marked by action and a conciliatory undertone (beyond the hiring of a village manager) after last year’s divisive election campaign, and pandemic-related community stress, portends well for a more collaborative, productive future.

Since last Tuesday’s special council meeting, which erupted into arguments among the members, I’ve spoken with several community leaders, including councilmembers Lauredo and Moss. Whether you agree, disagree, like, dislike, or are indifferent to those involved, I can unequivocally tell you that, in their own way, their actions were based in the belief that it was in the best interest of the community.

We commend Moss for reaching out to Lauredo last Thursday requesting  Monday’s follow up meeting, and for Lauredo’s “immediate acceptance.” This was a heartfelt effort to both clear the air and clear the path forward getting a new manager hired.

It also shows mutual respect, and an intelligently proactive stance by these community representatives, which indicates a bright future for the council moving forward.

The belief that “We are all in this together” has helped bring us closer as a community. It may have helped drive Monday’s collaborative “air clearing” meeting by political adversaries. But it most certainly has raised awareness of the need for us all to prioritize respect and reason in our daily dealings.

While we await the decision on who the next village manager will be, lest not forget: We are still amidst a pandemic that has seen about 2,500 of our friends and neighbors infected with the virus, and sadly, many who did not survive it.

But each day, with vaccinations increasing, we are getting close enough to the end of this scary tunnel to realize that that light we see is not an incoming train, but rather the end of the pandemic.

So, this week’s issue of Islander News will feature a special report entitled A YEAR OF COVID. It will explore the challenges the island faced over the last 13 months, and celebrate the community’s resilience while weathering the pandemic. Look for it Thursday.

All the best,

Justo

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