Burch, sole challenger face off at debate
Cape Coral mayoral candidates Jim Burch and John Sullivan found little to agree on Friday night during a debate hosted by the city.
The approach seemed more in line with the election season than the city’s first debate Thursday for Districts 1, 4 and 6, where council candidates often stood on common ground.
Sullivan and Burch, the incumbent, locked horns on a number of issues in front of about 100 supporters at city hall. Most in the audience were dressed in T-shirts representing their favorite candidate.
All of the usual Cape issues — the utilities expansion project, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Zemel property — were broached in one way or the other.
But several, seemingly, off-the-cuff questions moved the candidates away from the familiar topics.
When asked if there was one thing they regretted saying or doing, Burch answered, “I regret nothing … I’ve stayed above the fray. All I’ve tried to do is the best I can do every time I’ve done it.”
Sullivan echoed that sentiment to some extent, but focused on the contributors and volunteers who have helped him along the way.
“Residents have really come to the plate,” he said. “They contributed generously and I know a lot of those people are hurting.”
When asked what the candidates would say to a young family thinking of moving to Cape Coral, their answers differed.
Burch said the city must move away from the negative image being portrayed by his challenger and continue to think positively.
“If you have employment, skill, it’s a great place to live,” he said. “It is the premier place in Southwest Florida, as far as I’m concerned. We’re very affordable for young families.”
Sullivan said it is vitally important to restore public trust in the city government as word of mouth will help to bring young families to the Cape.
“We need to restore the public trust,” he said. “They are the ones who are going to talk to relatives and friends and tell them Cape Coral is a good place to live.”
The general election is Nov. 3.
Early voting starts Monday and concludes Saturday at 1031 S.E. Ninth Place, behind the Lee County building. Hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
For more information, call 533-VOTE (8683).