Vinnie Taranto Jr. to Run for County Commission

Indialantic resident Vinnie Taranto Jr., who chairs an Indian River Lagoon advisory board, has announced his candidacy for Brevard County Commission in District 5 in the 2024 election.

Taranto will run as a Democrat for the seat now held by County Commission Vice Chair Kristine Zonka, a Republican who is in her second four-year term and cannot seek reelection in 2024 because of term limits.

Taranto, 46, is chair of the Save Our Indian River Lagoon Citizen Oversight Committee, and has been a member of that committee since it was formed in 2016, representing the technology sector. He also has been vice president since 2008 of Taranto Management Associates, where he developed and manage more than 125 beachside senior rental lots and homes; and has been managing member since 2006 of Media-Over-Matter Productions, a media production company for films and commercials.

Taranto is the first announced candidate for the District 5 seat in South Brevard. The district includes portions of Indialantic, Melbourne, Melbourne Village, Palm Bay and West Melbourne, as well as parts of unincorporated South Brevard.

Taranto said among the issues he will focus on in the campaign are smart growth; having the roads, sewage systems, waste-management facilities and other infrastructure needed to keep up with growth; the condition of the Indian River Lagoon; and housing availability.

“I like the direction the county is going now,” Taranto said, while adding that county government needs to address the challenges of continued population growth.

Taranto said he is starting his campaign early, in part to help persuade voters in the Republican-leaning district that they should not have any qualms about voting for a candidate who is a Democrat or who has a physical disability.

“The first thing people usually notice about me is my physical disability, and I like that,” Taranto writes in his resume. “I was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which limits the range of motion in my joints, but could never limit my aspirations. To accomplish as much as I have in my life, I’ve had to learn to never give up and to be as creative as possible to overcome what others may consider daily hurdles, but I call life. My objective is to continue challenging myself and others to be the very best they can be.”

Taranto added in an interview that his disability has “allowed me to be a great problem-solver and to have patience. It’s one of my greatest assets.”

All five current county commissioners are Republicans, and all five commission districts have more registered Republicans than registered Democrats. District 5, for example, has 35,971 Republicans; 27,636 Democrats; 26,331 no-party-affiliation voters; and 2,132 voters who are members of a minor political party.

Taranto said he knows that some members of both major political parties “can be very extreme,” but added that his goal “is to be a commissioner for everybody in my district.” He noted that he has supported Republican candidates for public office in the past.

“I trust the voters, and hope that they trust me,” Taranto said. “I know the people of the county. They are good people, and they are smart people. I feel that I can do a great job” as a county commissioner.

Taranto said voters should not avoid voting for him just because he is running as a Democrat. They should vote for who they think the best candidate is.

In addition to his work on the Save Our Indian River Lagoon Citizen Oversight Committee, Taranto served as chairman of Indialantic Sustainable Community & Resiliency Committee, and was co-founder and chairman Indialantic Environmental Advisory Task Force.

From 2018 to 2020, Taranto served as chief information officer for the State Attorney’s Office in the 18th Circuit. From 1997 to 2006, he was a technology specialist with the University of Florida Dean of Students Office.

Like Zonka, two other current Republican county commissioners are term-limited in 2024 ― Rita Pritchett in North Brevard’s District 1 and John Tobia in South Brevard’s District 3.

Republicans Robert Jordan and Dwight Seigler are seeking the District 1 seat. There are no announced candidates yet in District 3.

Source: Florida Today

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