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General Election ballot features numerous local races

By Staff | Oct 18, 2008

John McCain and Barack Obama may be grabbing the majority of headlines and airtime, but the Nov. 4 general election means more than just the presidential race for Cape Coral.

The U.S. House race in Florida’s 14th District, three Lee County Commission races, the Lee County Sheriff’s seat, the Lee County Property Appraiser’s race, six Lee Memorial Health Board seats, and two Mosquito Control District seats also will be decided on election day. Six Florida state Constitution amendments and two Lee County Charter amendments also will appear on the ballot.

Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said voters should educate themselves on the races and make their decisions before heading to the polls.

“The ballot is two full pages front and back. There’s a lot on the ballot to vote on. We want them to be prepared,” Harrington said.

She added that she doesn’t want to rush any voters but knowing the issues, especially the amendments, can cut down wait time at the polls and make for a smoother election process. The wording and “legalese” contained in the amendments can often leave voters scratching their heads as they try to decipher what they mean.

“The verbiage we’re supposed to use we get from the state,” Harrington said.

There were no surprises in the Aug. 26 primary as every local incumbent held off their intraparty challenges.

Historically, winners of the Republican primaries in Lee County usually emerge victorious in the general election, but one Republican primary victor is looking like a safer bet to hold on to her seat than others.

Kathy Smith, Public Defender of the 20th Judicial Circuit, beat Brian Boyle and Rex Darrow in the primary. She was set to face write-in candidate David Brener in the general election, but Brener withdrew from the race Sept. 24. Smith’s name will appear on the ballot along with a write-in option.

Here is a run-down of the other races on the ballot:

U.S. House,

Florida 14th District

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) will face Florida Sen. Burt Saunders (R-Naples), Democrat Robert Neeld of Cape Coral, and Jeff George (no party affiliation) of Cape Coral. Although Saunders is a Republican in the Florida Senate, he is running under no party affiliation in the general election.

County Commission

In the District 1 race, incumbent Bob Janes will face challengers A.J. Boyd of Cape Coral and Carla Johnston of Sanibel, both of whom are running under no party affiliation.

Les Cochran of Fort Myers (no party affiliation) will try to unseat Republican incumbent Ray Judah of Fort Myers in District 3.

Incumbent Frank Mann of Alva will look to retain his District 5 seat in the general election against opposition from Sonny Haas of Lehigh Acres (no party affiliation) and Dick Kuhn of Fort Myers (no party affiliation).

Lee County Sheriff

Sheriff Mike Scott of North Fort Myers, coming off a primary win in which he won more than 90 percent of the vote, faces Christian Meister (no party affiliation) in the general election. Scott is a Republican.

Lee County

Property Appraiser

Republican incumbent Ken Wilkinson will square off against Democrat John Glaser of Fort Myers and Larry St. Amand (no party affiliation) of Cape Coral.

Lee Memorial

Health System

Board of Directors

The Lee Memorial Health Board is a non-partisan, 10-member board made up of two members from each of its five districts. Six seats in three districts are up for grabs in the general election. Voters can choose two candidates for each district.

Incumbent Marilyn Stout of Cape Coral will face Stephen Brown of Sanibel and Anna Clark of Cape Coral in District 1. Jason Moon of Bonita Springs will try to unseat one of the District 3 incumbents, Lois Barrett of Fort Myers Beach and Linda Brown of Fort Myers. District 5 incumbents Kerry Babb of unincorporated Lee County and James Green of Fort Myers will try to fend off competition for their seats from Robert Freiburger and Vilmar Ribeiro, both of whom are from Fort Myers.

Lee County Mosquito Control District

Two of these non-partisan races will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

James Opp will try to unseat incumbent Lawrence Murphy in District 1, while challenger Tim Gardner will try to do the same to incumbent Mike Ellis in District 3. Incumbents George “Pat” Mann, Jr. and Bruce Scott will retain their seats as they are running unopposed in Districts 5 and 7, respectively.