In a second special meeting on Jan. 31 to fill the seat left vacant by former councilman Trevor Wofsey’s resignation, the Marathon City Council flipped a coin to determine the appointment of Robyn Still over fellow finalist Jody “Lynny Thompson” Del Gaizo.

In a continuation of the deadlock from their Jan. 24 special meeting, the four seated city council remained in a 2-2 tie throughout the session, with Mayor John Bartus and councilman Steve Cook in support of Still and councilmen Luis Gonzalez and Dan Zieg in support of Del Gaizo.

In a unanimous vote to settle the nomination and avoid violations of Marathon’s city charter, the council approved a coin toss. Still deferred the call for the toss to Del Gaizo, who chose “heads.” With MCSO Captain Don Hiller as the officiant, the “tails” side of the coin handed Still the victory. The result was later confirmed with a video review.

Opening the meeting with an address to Del Gaizo, Cook reiterated his concern from the previous two meetings that Del Gaizo’s appointment had been pre-determined in advance of official city council discussion and in violation of Sunshine Law. “I think that you would not want to sit on this board with even a hint that it was done improperly,” said Cook. “I ask you now to withdraw your name from this nomination process.”

Addressing the council, Del Gaizo reaffirmed her commitment to her candidacy. “I understand where you’re coming from. The last couple of weeks, with everything that I’ve heard and what I’ve been through, triple it from what you’ve heard,” she said. “I’m not aware of all the workings behind my back. My intention of running for city council is true to the heart. I love this community and this island. I’m a little disappointed, but I’m strong, I will bounce back, and you will see me again.”

Zieg requested further clarification on Cook’s assertions. “Mr. Cook has referred a number of times to all the back room things that have gone on,” he said. “I think this would be an appropriate time in the sunshine to find out what the hell he’s talking about.”

“When I was seeking out a replacement for Mr. Wofsey, I kept hearing, ‘What difference does it make? It’s already selected,’” said Cook. “I heard that from numerous people around town. So to me, that is the hint of impropriety. I think that it goes a long way to showing that there’s a problem here. Those kinds of coconut telegraph things have some potential for truth. I would just assume that we stay away from that potential for truth.”

Following speeches by both Del Gaizo and Still as well as further deliberation among council members, City Attorney Steve Williams informed the deadlocked council that they were authorized explicitly under Florida statute to “draw lots” or use any method in which there was no opportunity for skill or bias to influence a true 50-50 outcome. “The most recent example was in the town of Chiefland, Florida,” said Williams. “There was a dead tie in an election and they drew straws.”

Still has been a resident of Marathon since 2016 after a 22-year career in law enforcement. She and her husband Chris own and operate The Tackle Box in Marathon. “I am very honored to be appointed to the City Council,” said Still. “I am open minded and will respectfully listen to the positions and viewpoints of my fellow councilmen and the public so we can all work together to continue to make Marathon an amazing city.”

Del Gaizo was gracious in defeat, embracing Still immediately after the coin toss. “I loved running a clean campaign,” she said. “What an eye opener to the other side of the coin. Thank you to my supporters. It was difficult being bullied these few weeks.”

Still will serve on the city council until the November 2022 City Council election, when she may seek to retain her seat by popular vote. She will be sworn in at the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 5:30 p.m. at Marathon City Hall. 

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.