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Reaction to council selection process mixed

By Staff | Mar 17, 2010

When Erick Kuehn was chosen Monday to fill the District 5 council seat, 16 other applicants were left disappointed their names weren’t ultimately called by a majority vote.
A few of those applicants felt they got a fair shake in the selection process, and a few felt that not only were they not served by that same process, but so was the city.
“I think they enacted the process fairly, but I’m sure a lot of people are going to question the outcome,” said Terry Miller, who was selected as Marty McClain’s choice for the seat.
Miller, a salesman for Sysco Foods, said he was happy he had the chance to share his vision and principals before council, though he said Kuehn’s selection “raised some eyebrows”.
He said he might consider to making a full run at the seat in 2011, but it all depends on Kuehn’s choices. If he simply falls in line with the four sitting council members who selected him instead of making independent choices, he might make a run for the seat.
“I have no problem with people appointing people with similar beliefs … that’s the nature of the beast,” Miller said. “But was he the most qualified?”
Leading up to Monday’s appointment process, speculation circulated that the selection had already been made and the process was a mere formality.
Some council members refuted those claims while others hoped the rumors were not true.
Erick Kuehn was then chosen to replace Eric Grill in District 5, over other candidates with past political experiences, in Cape Coral and other locales.
One candidate was former Mayor and Police Chief Roger Butler, who said the appointment process was neither fair nor balanced.
Butler said he believed the rumors were true, that the decision was already made.
“To put 16 people through that when they knew what was going to happen … it made me feel cheap,” Butler said. “I feel it was all set up beforehand.”
Butler agreed, though, that Kuehn deserves a chance to make his mark before passing judgement on his job as a council member.
He could be good for the city, Butler said, but his selection inflicted some short-term damage to the city’s image.
“I think it was embarrassing for the city,” Butler said.
Aimee McLaughlin, who selected as Council member Kevin McGrail’s candidate, said she thought the process was fair, with each candidate on equal footing.
A public information officer for the Children’s Network of SWFL, said that she too would consider a run for the council seat in 2011.
She said she had no issue with Kuehn’s selection, and believes he simply did more to separate himself from the pool of candidates.
She added that only his performance will tell if council made the right choice.
“I hope the council made their selection based on the city’s best interest, and only time will tell,” she said. “He needs a chance. I wouldn’t want people making assumptions about me.”
Local attorney and applicant Scott Morris said he had issues with the selection process in general.
He’d have preferred to see council ask Gloria Baron, who lost to Grill by a slim margin, to fill the seat. And if she declined, then go for the appointment process.
“The public has already spoken on the individual they want to see replace Eric Grill,” he said.
For his part, Kuehn said he was humbled by the appointment and vows to carry out the best interests of the city, not just those of council members Pete Brandt, Bill Deile, Chris Chulakes-Leetz and Mayor John Sullivan, who selected him.
“We have to be able to agree to disagree … because there’s still work to be done,” he said. “Let’s set differences aside and work for the residents of Cape Coral. If we continue to divide the city, what will we accomplish?”