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Gov. Crist sets interviews for county vacancy

By Staff | May 17, 2010

Selected from an applicant pool of 27, the four will meet with Gov. Charlie Crist and members of the Governor’s Appointments Office on Monday. Jessi Freud, a spokeswoman for Crist’s office, said more interviews could be set up for other applicants, but only the four had been scheduled as of Friday.

"There are the first four," Freud said. "At this point, it’s just these four."

The four applicants who have been selected for interviews are:

* Carla Brooks Johnston, former Sanibel mayor who ran against Janes

* Christopher Berardi, former Cape Coral City Council member

* Mike Jackson, former Cape Coral Economic Development director

* John Manning, former Lee County commissioner and former Cape Coral City Council member

Janes passed away on March 10 at age 78. His district encompasses Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island and Cape Coral. Crist intends to pick someone to fill the seat until the November election, when Lee County voters can elect a commissioner to finish Janes’ term. The term for the District 1 seat expires in 2012.

According to Sterling Ivey, the governor’s press secretary, there is no set time frame in which Crist must make the appointment. After the interviews, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will conduct background checks.

Freud said the background screenings on the applicants are still ongoing.

On Friday, Berardi explained that he was thrilled when received the call.

"I look forward to the chance to talk one-on-one with Gov. Crist," he said.

"I think the governor will look to make the best choice that he can of the group and recent experience and community involvement are some of the things he’ll probably look at," Berardi said. "I hope to be his choice."

Berardi has been preparing for the interview, among other things.

"I’ve gotten up to speed on the issues the county is facing," he said. "All of the things that the county’s dealing with now."

Jackson said it is unfortunate that Janes passed and an appointment has to be made, but he called the process a wonderful opportunity and said all four chosen for the interviews should be pleased.

"I’m really thrilled to be among the four, and I’m going to do whatever I can to get across my prospective," Jackson said. "You need to understand what you believe, you need to understand the types of choices the governor has to make and, most importantly, be true to yourself and your beliefs."

He added that the appointment will not be easy for the governor.

"I think each of the candidates has a lot to offer," Jackson said. "Each of us has strengths and weaknesses, and I think that he has a tough call to make."

Johnston said the appointment process has been full of surprises.

"We’ll see what happens," she said. "It depends totally on what the governor decides and who he thinks is appropriate."

Johnston added that she is honored to be selected for an interview.

"I’m very sad that he (Janes) was not able to complete his term," she said. "I think that Commissioner Janes and I share a number of similar interests, and it would be an honor to be able to take his place."

Manning hopes to bring insight to the seat after spending the past 10 years working in the private sector with counties and municipalities across Florida.

"I’m hopeful that the governor is looking at my background and experience and will get a better insight into myself through the interview process," he said. "I’ve got a well-rounded background."

Manning added that he has not had to really prepare for the interview.

"I’m pretty familiar with the issues that are involved here in Lee County," he said.

The other applicants for the appointment to the District 1 seat include:

* Noel Andress, real estate Broker and business owner

* Paul D. Asfour, former Cape Coral City Council member

* David Barton, former Cape Coral board member

* A.J. Boyd, former Cape Coral City Council member

* Linda Carter, executive director for Emergency Preparedness for the ADA Advisory Board of Southwest Florida

* John F. Cataldi Jr., former Cape Coral City Council candidate

* Robert Chilmonik, Lee County School Board member

* Wayne Daltry, former director of Smart Growth for Lee County

* Bill Deile, Cape Coral City Council member

* Donald Farrell Eslick, former Lee County committee member

* Gerald Finan, substitute teacher

* Susan Janes Flinn, owner of retail businesses

* Carletha Griffin, owner of a consulting business

* Sonny Haas, retired North Fort Myers Fire Department engineer

* Richard Hoffman, deputy sheriff with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office

* Donna Loibl, retired Matlacha resident

* Christian Meister, former candidate for Lee County sheriff

* Chelsey M. Perry Sr., retired Fort Myers resident

* Nicholas Sacca, formerly of Adecco Employment

* Bruce J. Scott, former state representative and Lee County commissioner

* Raliegh C. Scott, Lee County substitute teacher

* Cynthia J. Shafer, Realtor

* Donald Devoe Slisher, former Lee County commissioner