Mayor selection process receives opposition, support
Cape Coral Mayor Jim Burch conducted his first meeting as mayor Monday, but any hopes of a honeymoon period were short-lived as many citizens spoke out against the process that appointed him to replace former Mayor Eric Feichthaler.
“You could say the whole process was an insult to the intelligence of the residents,” said John Sullivan, founder of the Cape Coral Minutemen and one of 24 people who applied to replace Feichthaler.
Many residents took issue with what they see as council’s apparent embrace of plurality during their Nov. 10 meeting, and abrupt abandonment of the concept during the mayoral voting process Nov. 17.
Under plurality, whoever received the most votes would be named as mayor, even if they did not achieve a majority of the council votes.
In the second round of voting, Councilmember Bill Deile attained a plurality when he garnered three votes while Burch and Councilmember Dolores Bertolini each received two.
Because the city charter calls for a minimum of four votes for an action of council to be valid, some believe a vote of affirmation should have been called for Deile. Instead, mayor pro tem Derrick Donnell, who ran the meeting, called for a runoff between Burch and Bertolini to see who would face Deile in the final vote. Burch won that vote by a 4-3 count and the final vote by the same margin.
“(Council members) know four is more than three, but they don’t know three is more than two? Common sense should prevail here. Common sense should rule, not politics,” said Steve Golub, who also applied to be mayor.
“I’m very confused and disappointed about how the mayoral voting process went,” said Cape resident Charlene Campbell.
Some, however, applauded the new mayor and urged the council to get back to business.
“I want to congratulate you and wish you well. Let’s just put this behind us and move forward,” Councilmember Tim Day said.
Heather Mazurkiewicz, representing the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral, pointed out that no one contested the procedure at the time and urged the council to get back to the pressing issues of the city.
Councilmember Eric Grill, however, lamented his missed opportunity to speak out against the method used to select Burch.
“I am absolutely disappointed in myself. I should have forced the issue to at least follow the process. I put the blame entirely on myself,” Grill said.
For his part, Deile said he will not contest the vote, but did direct the city clerk to attach a verbatim account to the minutes of the Nov. 10 meeting before they become part of the official record.