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Voter turnout ‘surprises’ election supervisor

By Staff | Sep 17, 2009

Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington called Tuesday’s voter turnout for the primary election “pathetically low,” and came just shy of claiming it an all-time record.
Cape Coral and Fort Myers combined for a mere 9.79 percent total voter turnout.
Harrington said she was “surprised” by the percentage, especially in the Cape.
“I really thought with everything going on … with the economy and the sewer projects, there would be a 15 (percent) to 20 percent turnout,” she said.
Though the Cape’s percentages were low, Fort Myers voters proved less reliable when it came time to cast their ballots Tuesday.
Randy Henderson won the mayoral race in Fort Myers with a mere 1,773 votes. Teresa Watkins-Brown claimed the city council seat in Ward 1 with a slim 213 votes.
By comparison, John Sullivan nearly dominated the Cape mayoral primary race with 3,846 votes. Incumbent Jim Burch came in second with 2,276 votes.
For the District 6 Cape Coral City Council seat, Kevin McGrail survived the primary with 3,573 votes, as did John Cataldi Jr. with 2,882 votes.
Whether the percentages will pick up for the general election, Harrington would not guess. But she thought the high turnouts from the 2008 general election would carry over to this year’s first election.
“The 2008 election was so active, there was just so much response. Lee County had the highest turnout in the entire state,” she said. “I really thought it would transcend, especially in the Cape, that the momentum would carry forward. Everyone over there is being affected one way or the other.”
The general election takes place Nov. 3.
Sullivan and Burch will battle for mayor, and Cataldi and McGrail will face off for the District 6 seat.
Kenneth McClain will take on Jim Martin for the District 1 city council seat, and Chris Chulakes-Leetz will face incumbent Dolores Bertolini for District 4 seat.