Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A New Council Seated

Photos by Steve Stefanides | New councilors sworn in.


Councilor Jared Grifoni

Five newly elected city councilors ascended to their positions on the dais in council chambers on November 9th. Collier County Circuit Judge Ramiro Manalich swore them in. Camera shutters clicked and smiles overflowed as City Clerk Laura Litzan orchestrated the event as she has since the inception of cityhoodswearing in the first council almost 22 years ago. 

Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz would look on from the dais as Rich Blonna, Greg Folley, Jared Grifoni, Becky Irwin and Joe Rola took oaths of office. The board itself is still one member short due to the unexpected resignation of Victor Rios at the end of last month. Council voted to entertain applications from citizens to fill that unexpired term over the next month. They will interview those potential candidates both privately and in public to choose that person for the next two years. 

The next order of business involved the choice of a new chairman and vice chairman for council. It would be Brechnitz who has held that position for the last two years who would nominate Grifoni for the position. With no other nominations coming forward Brechnitz would ceremoniously hand over the gavel to Grifoni and the nominations for vice chairman were opened. 

Grifoni nominated newly elected Becky Irwin to fill that position. Irwin, a local real estate agent and a former member of the Beautification Committee was a member of the slate that comprised GrifoniBlonna and Irwin during the election. 

Councilor Folley would nominate Brechnitz for the Vice-Chairman’s role. Brechnitz chaired the council the last two years. Both nominations failed to garner a majority vote. 

Newly elected vice chair Greg Folley.

Nominations would be reopened and Brechnitz in turn nominated Greg Folley. Folley temporarily filled the seat formerly held by Sam Young when he resigned in April of this year. Folley would subsequently file for the two-year remaining term of Young under the provisions called for within the Charter winning that seat without opposition. Folley holds a law degree from Notre Dame and had extensive experience within Caterpillar, Inc., retiring as a Vice President. 

Councilor Blonna would nominate Councilor Irwin for a second time and once again neither nomination received the requisite majority vote, both failed by 3-3 votes. 

On the third set of nominations it would be Councilor Brechnitz who would again nominate Councilor Folley, but this time highlighted his extensive experience as both an attorney and his experience as Director of Human Resources, amongst other positions within Caterpillar as the skill sets important to making him the right choice for the position and to serve the citizens of the community. 

Councilor Blonna would again nominate Councilor Irwin and would refer to her vote tally in the last election as his belief that she would better serve the citizens in the role as Vice-Chair, however when the council cast their final votes it would be Folley who would prevail. 

Council then took a break before moving forward on a relatively short agenda and adjourning just before 8pm.  



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