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Council members hope elections bring cohesion

By Staff | Jun 20, 2009

Mayor Jim Burch added his name to the list of candidates vying for Cape Coral City Council seats this campaign season when he announced Thursday he would seek election to the seat he was appointed to in November.
That list is likely to get more crowded as the July 10 deadline to file to run for one of the four seats up for grabs draws near.
Besides the mayor’s seat, the District 1, 4, and 6 Council seats are up for election this year. Council elections are nonpartisan, but primaries will be held Sept. 15 for races with more than two candidates. The top two vote-getters will then square off in the Nov. 3 general election.
Burch said the mayoral race is about trying to continue Cape Coral’s growth and progress in spite of tough economic times or halting that progress.
“Do you want to stop Cape Coral in its tracks? Or do you want to go the other way, which is the way I feel about Cape Coral, which is that it’s a great city,” Burch said.
One of Burch’s main priorities in a second term is positioning the city to rebound strong when the recession eases. That means avoiding some of the more drastic budget cuts, something budget hawks and critics of city spending are loathe to do.
“I think it’s a very important election at a very important time. We have to decide what kind of city we want to be,” Burch said.
Burch’s only official opponent so far is city activist John Sullivan, who has consistently railed against city spending and the utilities expansion project in council meetings, but other council members have also hinted at a mayoral run.
Councilmembers Eric Grill and Bill Deile have the necessary paperwork to run for mayor, but neither has decided to file it yet. Both say they are waiting for a candidate they can endorse to enter the race before deciding, but Deile maintains he will likely not run.
“I haven’t completely made my decision. I’m still hoping for other people to get in the race,” Grill said.
Grill and Deile, whose council seats are not up for re-election this year, have until Friday to decide on a run. They must submit a letter of resignation of their council posts as part of Florida’s “resign-to-run” law.
Regardless of the outcome of the races, the council will see at least two new members in November. District 6 Councilmember Tim Day is term-limited and District 1 Councilmember Gloria Tate has said she will not seek another term.
The District 1 race is the most crowded so far, with three residents — Samuel Huber, Jim Martin and Kenneth McClain — officially in the running.
The District 6 race, as of Friday, features Kevin McGrail and Gordon Ultsch.
District 4 Councilmember Dolores Bertolini is the only official candidate for her seat, but said that is likely to change before July 10.
“If history repeats itself, people will get in the last 15 minutes before the deadline. I’m in the wait-and-see mode,” Bertolini said.