Council Sidesteps Gerwig To Name Greene Vice Mayor

Wellington Councilwoman Anne Gerwig was passed over this week for the title of vice mayor when members of the Wellington Village Council voted 3-2 to depart from custom, giving Councilman John Greene the ceremonial title instead.

Gerwig and Councilman Howard Coates dissented on the motion after Greene’s nomination by Councilman Matt Willhite.

“This takes what should be a very non-controversial appointment to a ceremonial title and, in my opinion, attempts to inject politics, acrimony and further division,” Coates said.

Traditionally, the title of vice mayor has gone to Wellington’s longest-serving council member who has not recently held the position.

Gerwig was re-elected last month, making her next in line had the council followed precedent. Greene was first elected in 2012 and has served the least amount of time of any council member.

Willhite chose to nominate Greene at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, and Mayor Bob Margolis seconded the motion.

“Although it is ceremonial, it is a position that is held with high regard and that will serve in the absence of the mayor,” Willhite said.

He said it was not the first time the most senior-ranking council member had been passed over, pointing to a time when then-Councilman Mark Miles was not appointed vice mayor.

“It’s not as though this is the first time this has happened,” Willhite said. “It’s not an effort to inject any politics. It’s a council option.”

Gerwig pointed out that she was re-elected with more than 63 percent of the vote.

“If you think I’m somehow not the people’s choice, that would be an interesting argument to make,” she said. “This is a highly ceremonial position, and it would be proper to appoint me as the vice mayor.”

Coates agreed. “I think it sets a bad precedent,” he said. “It’s not an affront to [Greene] at all. I just believe practices and procedures are important.”

During council comments at the end of the meeting, Gerwig called the vote a personal affront.

“I think it’s an affront to me personally and an affront to women in general that the three of you would not designate me vice mayor,” she said. “I have served you faithfully in this village. I would think you’d be smarter than this, to declare war on me and to declare war on women up here. It’s a really bad precedent to set.”

Greene said he was “taken aback” by the nomination.

“I’m flattered,” he said. “I don’t think there has been any attempt to start a war or continue a war that started two elections ago,” he said. “I don’t believe this was an affront to women, and I think by saying that comment… it’s like throwing out the race card. I think it’s really unprofessional, and I’m insulted by it. I think the people deserve better than that.”

Coates said he believed Wellington’s customs were more important than politics.

“If we just willy-nilly dispense with them, we do a disservice to this community and we create tension and acrimony where it normally needn’t occur,” he said.

He pointed out that Margolis, Willhite and Greene all will stand for election in two years, while he and Gerwig secured four-year terms last month.

“One thing that is for certain is that Anne and I will be here two years from now,” he said. “I commit to you now that in two years, Anne, when you and I are still here, I will speak first and nominate you as vice mayor.”

Although Wellington has made efforts to heal a rift in the community caused by the 2012 election, Coates said he did not believe the council was any closer to that goal.

“To dispense with custom because of political differences sets a bad precedent for this community that continues to put salt into the wounds that we’ve had to deal with for the past two years,” he said. “I would have hoped we had gotten past that, but tonight’s meeting tells me we may not be any further along to healing than we were two years ago.”


ABOVE: Vice Mayor John Greene.


  1. It upsets me that I once voted for Willhite. He has been a huge disappointment. He transformed from a family man to a puppet for billionaires who will dispense with him when he can no longer be of political service to them.

    How can he afford to purchase then renovate in Aero?

  2. The Divider in Wellington

    1. Instigated cutting down of 400 Washingtonia Palms along Greenbrier and Aero Club Drive

    2. Instigated more rules for Aero Club despite 1300 pages of FAA requirements

    3. Promised that 9/11 Memorial would be totally paid for with private funds

    4. Personally selected oversized (why?) beam for 9/11 Memorial which required additional engineering costs for Wellington residents

    5. Over the top and on-going costs to maintain 9/11 fountain and eternal flame (shut it off!)

    6. Sought to have attorney Don Dufrense be Wellington Counsel despite Dufrense’s demand for higher $alary and more costly perk$

    7. Sidestepped Vice Mayor nomination of Gerwig to nominate Greene
    (so much for the $$$$$ spent on counseling -suggested by Mayor Margolis (not Councilman Coates as ‘described’ (lie) in politcal ads by former Council candidate Matt Kurit) It was a vindictive, bullying tactic of the Divider. Keep cool, Gerwig, the residents are aware of what happened

    8. Dissenting votes on too many decisions, it’s a failure to compromise.

    9. Accentuates and promotes a political party affiliation to further divide the Village

    10. Nominates individuals to committees who further cause dissension
    (latest nominee to PL&Z Board, stated during this month’s April meeting, that the new building on the corner of Pierson/South Shore should be torned down, demolished-and that wasn’t even on the agenda or up for discussion!) Take heed Equestrian Sports Productions-that’s prejudicial! How can an entity expect a fair decision before a committee; when an appointee is making such public statements beforehand? And one wonders why Wellington residents are having to ante up more co$t$ for lawsuits (instead of money for parks and improvements)? when it’s appointees, such as these, who add to the costs of defending the Village from such careless words and actions!

    11. Speaks about ‘safety’ in the Village, but fails to provide a safe, easy passage to our Village Park on Pierson for our youth to travel

    12. Sought to fire Village Manager (and continues to seek Manager’s ouster)

    And he says, he’s not a Divider!

    *Urge Tennis aficionados, Aero Club residents and other DISENFRANCHISED groups in Wellington to organize, seek and support alternative candidates to run in the Wellington 2016 elections.

    And really like the idea from an Aero Club citizen (what an well organized and articulate group!) to form another county, which would include all western cities. Let’s face it: we, in the western part of the county, get absolutely NO RESPECT from the rest of the district commissioners!

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