Cape campaign season ratchets up
Campaign season moves into a new phase next week as signs for municipal elections this year are allowed to be posted beginning Sunday.
With the primary election one month away, Cape Coral council candidates will begin making their campaigns more visible.
“I’ll have signs, brochures, pamphlets, all that stuff,” mayoral candidate John Sullivan said.
There will also be a series of forums and debates in the comings weeks, and candidates said they are ready to answer questions and push their platforms.
“I’m prepared for the debates. Talking about what I’ve been doing the last two years, that’s the easy part,” said incumbent Mayor Jim Burch.
Burch, who was elected to the District 1 seat in 2007 before being appointed to replace Mayor Eric Feichthaler in November, said Cape Coral has been able to remain attractive despite rampant foreclosures and high unemployment.
“For two years we’ve kept the city relatively vibrant considering the global conditions,” Burch said.
But Burch and other incumbents are receiving criticism over their uneven approach to the controversial utilities expansion project and what some see as unnecessary city spending.
In addition to Sullivan, former mayor Roger Butler, Comcast employee Robert Pizzolongo, and document management company manager Steven Lovejoy will challenge Burch for the mayor’s seat.
Sullivan pointed to a recent citizens’ survey which revealed a lack of trust of local government among residents as one of the city’s main issues.
“If we don’t restore the trust of the public there’s going to be a lot of things we’re not going to be able to do,” Sullivan said.
For Butler, city financial decisions should reflect decisions being made at dinner tables across the city.
“A lot of people are cutting back and the city should do that as well,” Butler said.
Responding to the criticism, Burch said the city council has actually reduced the budget in the past two years, reduced staff size, and worked to lower the cost of the UEP.
“People should realize there’s an awful lot of misinformation out there,” Burch said.
The mayoral candidates will get the chance to debate the issues Wednesday at the Southwest Neighborhood Association’s candidate’s forum, held at 7 p.m. at Oasis Elementary.
Candidates from the District 1, 4, and 6 races will get the chance to jump into the debate Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. when the Cape Coral Civic Association holds its forum at the Yacht Club.
The city also will host two nights of debate Aug. 27-28 at 6 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall. The first night will feature the council member candidates for District 6 while the second night will feature the mayoral candidates.
Debates are often judged subjectively, but one more quantitative measure of the election so far may be financial support.
Campaign treasurer’s reports were released Friday, and Sullivan leads the money-raising race among mayoral candidates with $6,064 raised so far. Butler has the second-highest war chest thus far with $1,100 raised, and Burch’s tally is $955. Lovejoy has raised $500 and Pizzolongo’s report was unavailable on the city’s Web site.
The primary election will be held Sept. 15, and the general election will be held Nov. 3.