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Feichthaler rules self out of replacement process; Goal to avoid conflict with charter

By Staff | Oct 7, 2008

Cape Coral Mayor Eric Feichthaler ruled himself out of the process to replace him as mayor Monday, wanting to avoiding any real or perceived conflict with the city charter.

Feichthaler announced his resignation, effective Nov. 17, this summer when he decided to run for the District 1 Lee County Commission seat. The resignation was mandated as part of Florida’s resign-to-run law requiring elected officials to quit their current post to run for another. Feichthaler was narrowly defeated by incumbent Bob Janes in the Republican primary.

“The best thing is for me to be off the dais when the vote occurs,” Feichthaler said.

Although Assistant City Attorney Marilyn Miller wrote an opinion in July stating the mayor could be involved in selecting his replacement, Feichthaler wanted to avoid any confusion over the charter language, which states that only “remaining members” can vote on a vacancy.

In another move to avoid a potential conflict with the charter, council members moved their vote on Feichthaler’s replacement from Nov. 3 to Nov. 17, after the mayor’s resignation. That means only seven council members will vote instead of the usual complement of eight.

The city has been accepting applications from the public at large and some council members since Sept. 26. More than two dozen applications have been picked up, and some council members fear a lengthy, circus-like interview process with several candidates.

“I’ve heard the term circus, we are now a three-ring circus,” said Councilmember Jim Burch, who has picked up a mayor application.

Burch pushed for council members to appoint Councilmember Tim Day as mayor to avoid a cumbersome interview process, and made a motion to that effect before withdrawing it after Councilmembers Eric Grill and Pete Brandt voiced concerns that the motion was not charter-compliant.

“Mr. Burch, respectfully, you said earlier in this discussion you wanted to stick to the charter, but your motion is in violation of the charter, in my opinion,” Grill said.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to do this now,” Brandt said.

Burch then withdrew his motion but also bemoaned its lack of support.

“My intent to do this was continuity, experience and moving away from the circus atmosphere. The idea that we’re getting into a well-balanced process here is such a ludicrous thing.”

In other news

— A vote on road impact fee increases originally scheduled for Monday has been moved to Nov. 10. Councilmember Dolores Bertolini, who sponsored the proposal, said the extra time would give council members and staff time to review the ordinance.