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Congressional candidates push change Tuesday; Cape’s civic association holds forum

By Staff | Sep 24, 2008

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., was tried in absentia Tuesday night by his opponents for Florida’s 14th Congressional seat.

At a debate held by the Cape Coral Civic Association, Democrat Bob Neeld and no party affiliate candidates Burt Saunders and Jeff George blamed inept Washington politicians — and Mack in particular — for current local and national economic and energy problems.

“Connie Mack will not come to any forum to talk to you,” said Saunders, a Florida state senator for the 37th District. “He lives in southern California, and that’s an outrage.”

“If you send Representative Mack back to Washington nothing will change,” Neeld said.

The candidates were asked their positions on several issues, including energy reform, immigration reform and the environment, but the dominant issue was the nation’s current economic crisis.

“We’re talking about the largest intervention in the private banking system since the Great Depression,” George said of the government’s plan to bailout failing financial institutions.

He bemoaned what he called “corporate socialism.”

“We seem to be turning into a new paradigm where its socialism for the wealthy, and its capitalism, do or die, for the rest of us,” George said.

Neeld said the war in Iraq is a misuse of resources that could be better spent in the United States.

“We must also end this senseless war in Iraq that is withdrawing valuable resources,” Neeld said.

Saunders stressed the need to cut out wasteful spending on behalf of special interests.

“Unfortunately Congress is being controlled by special interests that are more interested in their own self-interest than that of the people,” Saunders said.

After the national candidates had their say, candidates for the Lee County Memorial Health Board got the chance to debate each other.

Much of the debate centered on the lack of an open heart surgery center in Cape Coral.

“The budgets are not there to expand programs right now. Right now, I don’t believe, is the time,” said District 3 candidate Jason Moon.

He did say he would work to bring more services to the Cape in the future as the economic situation improves.

“I am running because I believe we need an open heart surgery center in Cape Coral,” said District 1 candidate Anna Clark.

District 1 incumbent Marilyn Stout said now is not the time to bring in inexperienced candidates.

“My heart is in this community. I’ve served on this hospital board eight years. The learning curve is too high,” Stout said.

The Lee County Memorial Health Board is a 10-member board with five districts. Voters can choose two candidates from each district.

The general election will be held Nov. 4.