Councilman Bonus 'spirit broken' by attacks

Phil Bonus, right, resigned from his seat on Oct. 11.

Phil Bonus, right, resigned from his seat on Oct. 11.

Isaac Babcock

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Maitland Councilman Phil Bonus’ resignation following two weeks of scandal and speculation will allow the city to “heal” and “go forward,” the mayor says.

Bonus said he’s doing the same, though harsh words from critics, which in part led him to resign, has made that hard to do.

Bonus resigned Thursday, Oct. 11, following his name appearing numerous times on the client list of an east Orange County brothel, and a DUI from December 2011 going public. Schieferdecker had called for his resignation, but Bonus said it was verbal attacks on him and his family that led him to leave office.

“My spirit was broken by the vicious attacks on my character,” Bonus said on Tuesday. “I really lost my zeal for public service when people I considered more or less trustworthy or civic minded turned brutally cruel to me and my family and became overly eager and opportunist.”

Though Bonus said he was unlikely to ever re-enter politics, he was proud of what he’d done while on Council.

“I’m very proud of having advanced the pill mill initiative and the anti-casino gambling initiative, the reinstitution of the K-9 officer and the K-9 memorial gardens, and the Love Pantry (in Maitland schools),” he said. “Those are things which I would hope to be positively remembered by.”

When the Maitland City Council meets on Monday, Oct. 22, they’ll take the first step forward by filling Bonus’ now empty Council seat.

Former elected officials who’ve been listed as potential candidates for Councilman Bonus’ seat are: Robert Breaux, Sascha Rizzo, James Panico, Bill Laubach, David Libert, Bill Taulbee, Bob Brown, Bob Miller, Joan Randolph, Jeff Flowers, Dick Howell and Doug Kinson.

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Former Maitland Councilman Phil Bonus

“I just hope we can heal this thing and go forward from there,” Mayor Howard Schieferdecker said.

Schieferdecker announced that per tradition, first priority for those with interest in filling the seat will go to former elected Maitland officials still living in the city. On Monday, Oct. 15, City Clerk Maria Waldrop emailed a list of 12 possible candidates asking their interest in filling the seat from now until the city election in March.

At press time Tuesday, three had responded expressing their interest: former Mayor Robert Breaux and former Council members Jeff Flowers and Bob Miller. Dale McDonald, member of the city’s planning and zoning commission, also asked for his name to be added for consideration.

“It’s an honor for anyone to be asked to serve another term and serve the city, so sure I’m willing. I’m happy to help out if they need me,” said Breaux, who served as mayor from 1993-2000 and temporarily filled Schieferdecker’s seat following his appointment to mayor in 2011 after Mayor Doug Kinson resigned to run for an Orange County Commission seat.

Flowers, president of the Performing Arts of Maitland, had a similar sentiment, saying if the city needed him as someone who’s up to date with city business and proceedings, he would step up to the position.

“My reasoning is it’s a short-term commitment on my part, and the city needs someone who’s up to speed and can jump right in,” he said.

Also available to fill the seat, but not immediately throwing his name into the ring, is Kinson, who says he’ll do what he can to help in the transition if he’s called upon, “but it’s not something I’m going to push for.”

Councilwoman Linda Frosch, who following the March city election could be the only remaining seated member of the existing Council — pending Councilman Ivan Valdes’ decision to re-run for his seat — says anyone who has experience previously serving the city should be qualified to do the job.

“The good thing is that we’re moving forward and we’ll hopefully get a former Council member in the seat — they’re all very qualified,” she said.

The Council members will discuss their options during the Oct. 22 meeting, Schieferdecker said, with the first willing candidate to get three of the four members votes taking Bonus’ seat.