Letter: Shocked By Wellington Council

Even though I read the Town-Crier and watch the local news daily, I was somehow not informed of the major vote to be held at the Wellington Village Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 27. It was just by chance that I happened to be telling a friend who is currently looking to relocate about the Wellington Gardens project. Luckily, I saw their web site mention the meeting (date, time and location). I navigated to the Village of Wellington’s web site and found it confusing and difficult to even read the details. Fortunately, this attempt at holding a quick and quiet meeting spread by word of mouth among those who truly care about the community they live in.

As a prior HOA president, I was shocked when I saw more than 350 residents, shoulder to shoulder and elbow to elbow, standing room only, and some even sitting on the floor for the almost five-hour-long meeting. Never have I witnessed so many people from so many different backgrounds, ages, life experiences and residing in several different areas all speak in favor of the same project. I recall hearing a chief of police, student, stay-at-home mom, doctor, engineer, attorney and various other professions speak. Even the former mayor of Wellington spoke (and received a standing ovation when he concluded).

How an approximate 750-unit apartment complex was even up for consideration is embarrassing and shameful. I didn’t hear one single person speak in favor of this project other than our own village council. To that note, it was interesting that I sent an e-mail detailing my frustration and disappointment to our council members, and the only person who took the time to respond was Councilwoman Anne Gerwig. What is ironic is Councilwoman Gerwig was technically not allowed to vote on this project due to a potential conflict of interest. I’ll admit that at least Mayor Bob Margolis and Vice Mayor John Greene can clearly agree to disagree with each other and at least remain professional while doing so. Although I have my doubts with Mayor Margolis because at times he spoke in favor of open land and parks, yet was in favor of an approximate 750-unit apartment complex. This seems to be a huge contradiction.

The same professionalism and respect could not be said for Councilman Matt Willhite. I was in shock how rude, condescending and unprofessional he was during the meeting with residents who elected him. It appeared he only wanted to listen to himself speak, and he misspoke about what the developer and several residents said earlier. It was clear Councilman Willhite was talking down to residents. I surely hope Floridians are paying attention come voting time.

In summary, this council displayed a clear disregard for what the community wanted. I cannot help but to question personal motivations, by having a meeting they certainly did a good job at not advertising, to cover such a major vote; a vote that truly affects the future of Wellington. While no project was perfect, Wellington Gardens would bring jobs, money and entertainment to Wellington, as well as keep jobs, money and entertainment in Wellington. Residents are tired of driving a half hour north, south and east to what we have a chance at having locally. I urge the residents of Wellington to stay informed and remain involved. It appears we might have very well had this council vote in support of the apartment complex project had it not been for the blatant disgust and disapproval by so many residents at the Jan. 27 meeting.

PS: Councilman Willhite, I reside in the Grand Isles community and saw neighbors from Grand Isles and the Isles at the meeting. Shame on you to suggest that only the neighboring communities were vocal at the meeting.

Rich Best, Wellington


  1. what is sad is that I voted for Matt Wilhite when he first ran because he was a firefighter and thought he would be a voice of the regular wellington community, and not the equestrians. What a disappointment!

  2. It is an on-going problem with Councilman Willhite. He constantly berates Village employees at public meetings, too. And lest we forget; it was Willhite’s Planning and Zoning Committee appointee who unfurled the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute to Village staff at a Planning and Zoning meeting.

    Willhite also talks down to Councilwoman Gerwig and purposely bypassed her for Vice Mayor in favor of Councilman Greene. Tradition was that the LONGEST serving councilperson was nominated for Vice Mayor. Greene had less time on the Council than Gerwig.

    Willhite has no respect for others. He is focused on his own advancement.

    Take it to the voting booth in 2016!

  3. I guess you missed what happened to the tennis courts and old Village Hall.LOL We have a bully systems and they don’t care about the people,they care about money and power not to forget ego’s.

    • The decision about moving the tennis courts and replacing the old Village Hall were absolutely correct. That decision showed good and thoughtful insight for the current and future residents. Council shouldn’t support self interest groups (like a few tennis players from Mayfair).
      There is nothing more foul than ill informed resident(s) that shoot off their mouths like taxpayer.
      Our Council does not put money, power and egos ahead of the residents.

  4. Councilman Wilhite is term-limited and can’t run for council anymore, but he is now running to be our State House Representative for Wellington. I think he might have a problem with his career plans.

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