Local elections draw candidate interest
By TIFFANY REPECKI
More than 150 candidates qualified by Friday afternoon to run for several countywide races, including Lee County Commission and court judge seats.
Among the races on the local ballot for the 2010 election are the District 1, District 2 and District 4 commission seats; the District 1, 4 and 5 school board seats; the Group 3 and Group 4 seats for Lee County court judge and the District 2, 4 and seats for the Lee Memorial Health System.
Candidates had until noon to qualify.
Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said the candidates could qualify by paying a fee or by collecting a certain numbers of signatures.
“They’re all different based on the position and whether they’re running with a party affiliation or not,” she said.
For the commission seats, which are party affiliated races that are voted on countywide, the qualifying fee was about $3,376 to run without a party — 4 percent of the annual salary of the position — or about $5,064 to run with a party affiliation — 6 percent of the annual salary.
To qualify by petition, 3,205 signatures were required by noon March 29.
“One percent of the total registered voters at the time of the booking’s closing for the last general election,” Harrington said.
There were 320,000 registered voters in the November 2008 election.
For the county court seats, which are nonpartisan races, the 3,205 signatures were required by the same deadline or a filing fee of $5,371.20 — 4 percent of the annual salary of the position — was needed.
Those running for the Group 3 seat are Robert J. Branning, Miguel Fernandez III, Frank Mann Jr. and David Shestokas. The candidates for the Group 4 seat are incumbent Archie B. Hayward Jr. and Eric P. Feichthaler.
For the District 1 County Commission seat, left vacant by the death of Bob Janes on March 10, the candidates are Christopher Berardi, Mike Jackson, Carla Johnston, John E. Manning and Bob Chilmonik.
District 1 encompasses Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island and Cape Coral. The term for the seat is scheduled to expire in 2012.
Those running for the District 2 seat are incumbent Brian Bigelow, Sonny Haas, Debbie Jordan, Cecil Pendergrass and Dick Ripp.
Candidates for the District 4 seat are incumbent Tammy Hall and Debbie Jackow.
The commission seats have a term of four years.
For school board, the District 1 candidates are Mary B. Fischer, Arnold A. Gibbs and John E. Traube.
There is no incumbent in the non-partisan race as Bob Chilmonik opted to run for the county commission rather than seek re-election.
Qualified in District 4 are incumbent Steven K. Teuber and Don Armstrong.
Running in District 5 are incumbent Elinor C. Scricca and Thomas Scott.
“We’ve got quite a few candidates,” Harrington said. “It looks like we have a few more for county commission seats.”
“It’s a little unusual, especially with the economy because it’s hard to raise the money,” she added. “But there’s an interest in getting changes and them feeling like they’re the ones who can make a change.”
Early voting kicks off Aug. 9. The primary election is Aug. 24 and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.
“We want people to get out there and vote,” Harrington said.
Other races include Lee Soil and Water Board and Lee County Mosquito Control Board.