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Berger seeks Council seat to preserve island’s future

By Staff | Feb 12, 2009

With a list of professional accomplishments that extends for several pages, Dr. David Berger brings a lot of experience to the table in his bid for Sanibel’s City Council.

As a board-certified general surgeon who specialized in breast, head and neck, cutaneous and soft tissue surgical oncology, Dr. Berger has now retired from private practice and serves in the Veterans Administration system, dealing largely with skin and soft tissue tumors – work which he says is among the most rewarding of his distinguished career.

“Although I have enjoyed a full, professionally and academically rewarding career as a surgical oncologist, I am most proud of the opportunity I have had in recent years to care for the surgical needs of our veterans at the Fort Myers VA Outpatient Facility,” said Dr. Berger, who served in the Illinois National Guard in the 1960s, and received an honorable discharge from the United States Army Reserve in 1970. “Taking care of those who took care of us is a privilege, and I’m honored to have that opportunity.”

Dr. Berger is also in possession of a Master’s degree in Business Administration, received from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Illinois in 1991.

Having first come to the City of Sanibel as a vacationer in the 1980s, Dr. Berger and his family first purchased property on the island in 1991, and has been a full-time resident since 1999.

“My wife and I remember why we came to Sanibel – from the moment we saw it from the causeway,” said Dr. Berger in a campaign e-mail to supporters. “We remember the drive down Periwinkle Way, the tree canopy, the lovely business district, the pleasant, inviting residential neighborhoods – many of which with respected histories. We remember ‘Ding’ Darling, the gorgeous quiet beaches, the shells, the birds, turtle nests, low rise resort housing and unobtrusive beachfront residences.”

Dr. Berger just completed a two-year term on the Sanibel Planning Commission, and says his election to that august body, when he took the seat then occupied by John Veenschotten, was his most memorable in public service.

Dr. Berger said he is seeking election to the City Council so he can continue the work that he started while serving on the Planning Commission, explaining that he is committed to doing everything that he can to protect the City that he has come to call his home.

Among the City’s greatest challenges is the preservation of the characteristics and qualities that make the island a unique a place to live and visit, said Dr. Berger, stressing the importance of maintaining that uniqueness for the enjoyment of future generations.

“There is the challenge to resist forces that seek to gradually alter or erode the integrity of the Sanibel Plan and Land Development Code, both of which were put in place to guarantee the future of this island as a sanctuary for people and wildlife,” he said.

Dr. Berger also noted the City may be facing, to a degree, some of the same challenges as it did many years ago when the Sanibel Plan and Land Development Code were conceived in response to threats of overdevelopment.

“As development and redevelopment occurs here, a rational and evolutionary approach is critical,” he said. “It must be led by a purposeful, vigilant, polite, committed citizenry and business community that readily participates in government in an impartial manner and has a respect for the content and spirit of the Sanibel Plan and Land Development Code. No less is required if we are to preserve this very wonderful place to which we all came.”

Dr. Berger has spent his first decade as a resident of Sanibel serving his community in a number of different ways, including membership in the Medical Reserve Corps/Sanibel Unit, CROW, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, BIG Arts, the Sanibel Library, Committee of the Islands and Temple Bat Yam of the Islands. He also serves as a member of the Quality and Education Committee of the Board of Directors of Lee Memorial Health System.

The election will be held on Tuesday, March 3.

(Editor’s Note: There are three Sanibel City Council seats up for election in March. Those seats are currently occupied by Mayor Mick Denham, Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane and Councilman Marty Harrity. All three incumbents have filed for candidacy, as well as Dr. David Berger and David Bath. This article is the last in a series of weekly profiles on each of the candidates.)