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Two judicial candidates announce qualification by petition

By Staff | Mar 24, 2010

Two judicial candidates have announced they have qualified to appear on the ballot for their respective seats by acquiring petition signatures.
Former Cape Coral Mayor Eric Feichthaler, who is running for a Lee County judge’s seat, has collected enough signed petitions to appear on the ballot, he said Tuesday,
Feichthaler filed paperwork on Feb. 23 with the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office for the Group 4 seat, held by Judge Archie B. Hayward Jr. Hayward is seeking to retain the seat, which he was appointed to in 2008.
To qualify for a race, candidates can pay a fee or collect petitions from 1 percent of the total registered voters from the last election — Feichthaler needed 3,205 signatures. Candidates can open a campaign file for a race on through the qualifying period, which runs from April 26-30.
According to a prepared statement, Feichthaler’s campaign completed the drive on Saturday by obtaining more than 3,200 petitions to qualify for the race. His name will be on the ballot in the primary election, set for Aug. 24.
“We have received an incredibly strong reception from the voters of Lee County,” Feichthaler said. “Our message of service to the community was warmly received by the people, resulting in our campaign garnering over 3,200 petitions in just over three weeks.”
According to the statement, Feichthaler is a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit civil mediator. His family moved to Lee County in 1987 and Feichthaler graduated from Mariner High School in 1990. He is married to Mary, and they have three children, 5-year-old Eric, 3-year-old Tyler and 1-year-old Emily.
“I am looking forward to utilizing my years of experience as an attorney and community leader to serve the people,” he said.
Feichthaler graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in economics and earned his juris doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he competed in the mock trial competition. He later earned his Master of Law from New York University.
Feichthaler served as Cape Coral mayor from 2005-08. In 2008, he resigned to run for the Lee County Commission but was unsuccessful.
Feichthaler is on the board of four non-profit organizations, including Cape Coral Housing Rehabilitation and Development, the Cape Coral Charter School Foundation, Community Coordinated Care for Children Inc. and the Cape Coral Mayor’s Scholarship Fund. He is also a youth soccer coach.
Lee County judges serve for six years, according to the elections Web site. The original term for the Group 4 seat ran from 2004-10. Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Hayward to the seat to finish out the last two years of the term.
Judges do not run on party affiliations, so all registered voters in Lee County can cast a ballot in those races, regardless of party affiliation.
Also qualifying by petition Tuesday was candidate Miguel C. Fernandez III who is running for Lee County Judge Group 3.
According to a prepared statement, he qualified for the August ballot by submitting more than 3,600 signed petitions.
The Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office notified him that he has met the 3,205 minimum required amount and exceeded same by a valid total of 3,243, according to his campaign.
By qualifying to be on the ballot via petition, his campaign will save in excess of $5,000 for the Group 3 race.
The Lee County judicial position he is seeking is being vacated by the retirement of Hon. Radford Sturgis.
“We are so excited, proud and humbled that registered Lee County voters throughout our great community have expressed their desire to get me on the ballot and on the bench,” Fernandez said in the statement released Wednesday. “This has been a total team effort and we have the best supporters, volunteers and judicial campaign committee that anyone could ask for. They believe in my qualifications, reputation, diverse background and nearly 22 years of courtroom experience! I can’t begin to thank everyone enough for the confidence they have shown my judicial campaign.”
A 21-year resident of Cape Coral and a trial attorney, Fernandez declared his candidacy for Lee County Court Judge Group 3 in November 2009.
According to his bio, Fernandez was born during the summer of 1962 in Cuba. His family later fled and settled in New Jersey in June 1968. He attended public schools and eventually went on to receive his Political Science degree from Seton Hall Univ. (N.J.) and Juris Doctorate, as well as Masters in Public Administration, from Syracuse Univ. (N.Y.).
In 1988, Fernandez and his wife Denise, moved to Fort Myers and he took an assistant state attorney position until April 1990. As an assistant state attorney Fernandez tried a variety of misdemeanor and felony cases.
He later opened his own law firm and has been in private practice for almost 20 years and handles criminal law, personal injury, family law and general civil cases.
Judges do not run on party affiliations, so all registered voters in Lee County can cast a ballot in these races, regardless of party affiliation.