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Sullivan to challenge Burch for mayor’s seat

By Staff | Sep 16, 2009

The race for Cape Coral’s next mayor boiled down to two candidates Tuesday night as incumbent Jim Burch will face challenger John Sullivan in November’s general election.
Sullivan garnered 48 percent of the votes, totaling 3,846. Burch came in second with 28 percent of the votes, totaling 2,276.
The other three candidates did not fair as well.
Former Cape Mayor Roger Butler took 15 percent of the votes, or 1,186. Stephen Lovejoy took 6.2 percent of the vote, totaling 499, and Robert Pizzolongo garnered only 2.83 percent, or 227 votes.
Burch said he is “quite happy” with his showing in Tuesday’s primary. He thanked his supporters, but was disappointed by the voter turnout, which totaled less than 10 percent in the Cape.
“I can’t comment as to why so few people turned out to vote, but I’m hoping the general election brings more people out,” Burch said.
Despite city council chambers being packed recently with citizens angry over the utilities expansion project and the proposed millage, he does not think the numbers are indicative of a larger consensus.
“If you look at the percentages … typically, there’s a group from a couple of the campaigns and they’re very vocal, and negative at that,” he said.
Burch’s biggest challenge will be to overcome Sullivan, who nearly took half of the votes.
With 88,500 registered voters in the Cape, Sullivan is more puzzled by the number of people who did not vote than by the percentage he garnered Tuesday.
“I was more surprised that the number of people (who voted) was so low,” he said. “I was definitely hoping for a larger turnout.”
Sullivan agreed, too, that the large showings in council chambers did not equal the number of voters who cast their ballots Tuesday.
But he thinks a grass roots organization is taking hold amongst those who did vote.
“People are not happy with what they have in the Cape,” Sullivan said. “I don’t know if people have given up.”
Whether a disconnect exists between this year’s mayoral candidates and the citizens of Cape Coral is not clear, but Pizzolongo and Lovejoy think something needs to happen and more voters need to turn out.
“People need to get up and go do something,” Lovejoy said. “We have a huge problem with our own government. People need to step up and fight.”
“The working people are coming out to vote,” Pizzolongo said. “They need to come out, but they’re hurting right now … they’re disenfranchised.”