Candidates name top priority once seated
Editor’s note: Each week, The Breeze will ask candidates for city council their views on an issue of interest to the voters. Each candidate is asked the same question in a phone interview. This week’s question is: If elected, what would be the number one priority after assuming your seat on council?
Incumbent Mayor Jim Burch, a 58-year-old land surveyor, said the city is always his first priority.
“There are many things going on,” he said, adding that his priority is “trying to stimulate our local economy and maintain our budget at a reasonable level.”
John Sullivan, a 66-year-old retired broker and IT consultant, said if elected he wants to make sure taxes go down, along with seeing the utility rates decrease.
“We need to find out where to get that done,” he said.
Sullivan said he would also like to make major changes in the administration.
“I think some people have to go,” he said.
Seeking the District 1 seat are Jim Martin and Marty McClain.
Martin, a 77-year-old retired aerospace engineer, said he would like to reduce taxes by changing the methodology of public utilities.
He explained that changing the methodology of public utilities into an “all contracting in a design-bid-build methodology, opposed to a construction manager-at-risk type contract” would save 30 percent in the budget.
He said the current manager-at-risk contract is basically “handing over a blank check,” which should not be used in public utilities.
“Risk contract is very expensive, so you would save 30 percent, which is a big number,” Martin said.
McClain, a 51-year-old construction consultant, said his number one goal is “heading in the direction of addressing our unemployment issues.”
He said he would like to look at the existing businesses, along with promoting new industry by putting together an employee type workshop.
McClain explained that the workshop would be beneficial to employees because it would help to promote their talents and skills for prospective employers.
He said although there are a number of issues to address, he believes that addressing unemployment will help in repairing the other issues the city is currently facing.
Chris Chulakes-Leetz, a 53-year-old USCG-licensed captain, is seeking to unseat the District 4 incumbent, Dolores Bertolini.
“My first priority will be to request the city manager and all city staff to affirm an honesty declaration to the citizens of Cape Coral and the council members and all persons concerned,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “Honesty and full disclosure will be the new principal in which I will insist will be paramount in the behavior of all negotiations, presentations and affiliations in the city of Cape Coral.”
Bertolini, 75, said her number one priority is “to establish a full cohesiveness as a council to keep the city on a positive motion.”
She said she would also like to bring jobs to the city to bring an economic recovery to the city.
Kevin McGrail, a 53-year-old medical technologist, and John Cataldi Jr., a 69-year-old retired police detective, cleared the primary in their quest for the District 6 seat.
“The number one thing is to get a deeper understanding of the departments and their budgets,” McGrail said. “As a sitting council person, I would have access to much more data and that is going to be a major mission of mine to get a true understanding of the budget and where we can find cost savings.”
He said he wants to become much more intelligent with his understanding of the budget, so if he is elected he can offer more during next year’s budget process.
Cataldi said the first thing he would like to address is the elimination of right of entry.
“It is unconstitutional and there is no reason an officer should have the right to enter your house without the due process of law or a warrant,” he said, adding that it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
He said this is his first priority because it is an “easy one and I want to get it out of the way.
“It should have been eliminated when I first brought it up three years ago,” Cataldi said.
“I don’t want to see any officer get hurt or any citizen get arrested for fighting with someone who is trying to enter their house,” he said.
Cataldi said he is an advocate for people and he is about people.
“Things like that should be dealt with,” he said. “It is simple to write a new ordinance and appeal it and address the code enforcement needs.”
The general election is Nov. 3, with early voting to begin Monday.
Cape Coral mayor and city council elections are nonpartisan and citywide meaning voters registered within the city can cast a ballot in every race, regardless of their party affiliation or the district in which they live.