Sullivan: Moving the city forward a primary objective
With the election now a receding image in the rear view mirror, Mayor-elect John Sullivan wants all of the council’s focus to be squarely on moving the city forward in the most positive direction possible.
Taking the oath at city hall on Monday, Sullivan will try to help steer the city through whatever remains of one of the most difficult periods in the city’s — and the nation’s — history.
Though the campaign was at times heated, as lines were drawn and sides chosen, Cape Coral’s new mayor wants people to focus on what matters the most: the city.
“I thank the volunteers that worked tirelessly. I give them more credit for the results than myself. As far as the others are concerned, I want them to know the time for healing is here and now,” Sullivan said. “We all need to get on the same page and get this moving in the right direction. There was never a hatchet to bury in the first place.”
Sullivan’s efforts will be directed to several fronts, but two focal points will undoubtedly be trying to cut back city spending and reforming key positions within the upper levels of city staff.
The mayor-elect has long maintained a need for the city to save money, hopeful for a trickle-down effect to the citizens’ pockets.
He said that taking the opposite approach — raising taxes — has already been tried by the previous council, so a different approach must be taken. He thinks there’s still cash to be saved within the current budget.
“I want to look at the budget cycle for this year and see if there’s any place in there where we don’t have to spend money,” Sullivan said. “If you start taking two here, three somewhere else … there’s a lot of little crumbs we can put together.”
While Sullivan did not say, specifically, that he would be directing his staff reform at City Manager Terry Stewart, he said “everything was on the table.”
“We have to go department by department, find where the fat is, and cut it out,” he said. “We’re over managed, top heavy as far as management … we need to look at higher level management and see what we can.”
He wanted to assure city workers he’s not looking to lay anyone off, or go after salaries.
Instead, he wants to approach unions to make some temporary cuts to benefits.
He wanted to dispel the rumors, too, that he was looking to make heavy cuts to the fire department or dissolve the police department.
In fact, Sullivan hopes to stamp out rumors and misinformation in general, providing the citizens of Cape Coral with access to ask informed questions. He hopes to revamp Cape TV and how the council’s agendas are available on the internet.
Diversifying the way residents have access to city information, Sullivan also wants to diversify the local economy, finding a pleasant balance between construction and other opportunities.
Part of that balance, according Sullivan, is scaling back the “red tape” to foster growth and economic development.
“We need true diversification so we’re not 100 percent reliant on growth. I’m not saying dump growth, but we need a balanced economy. We put all of our eggs in one basket,” he said.
Moving forward will indeed be collective effort among council members, according to Sullivan.
He hopes they will be able to work on the most important things, whatever they may be, first.
“I hope we can get this together, prioritize a list and go after them one at a time and try to figure them out,” Sullivan said.