County candidates look to November
The incumbents in two Lee County Commission races will move forward to November’s general election, while voters will cast a ballot in a third race for the first time.
District 1 Commissioner John Manning and District 2 Commissioner Brian Bigelow garnered the most votes Tuesday in the Republican primary elections. Manning pulled more than 36 percent of the votes in his race, or 18,263 votes, and Bigelow claimed about 42 percent, or 21,483 votes, in his race.
Bigelow said he was “extremely humbled.”
“I think that the voters showed that they appreciate my service on the board,” he said, adding that if he wins the general election, he hopes to do as well or better during his second term. “I think that there’s a lot of changes that still need to be made.”
Bigelow will face off against Debbie Jordan, a Democrat, on Nov. 2 for the District 2 seat. Manning will square off against Carla Johnston, who is running without party affiliation, in November for the District 1 seat.
Johnston said Wednesday that she is optimist about the general election.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the voters and looking forward to the discussions with the other candidates,” she said.
Johnston emphasized that the most important thing is to run for the people.“I’m not really running against anybody,” she said. “I’m running for the people of Lee County.”
Asked about her campaign strategy, she called it “pretty similar” to others.
“It’s the content of the message that is a little different,” she said.
Johnston added that she thinks Lee County residents need a government that is going to listen to their problems. She said her experience with dealing with government and big budget issues, as well as her problem-solving ability, makes her a viable candidate for the county seat.
“I think that’s something that I can contribute that be particularly useful in a time like this,” Johnston said.
Jordan could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Along with the District 1 and 2 seats, the District 4 seat will be on the general election ballot. Two candidates qualified for the race. Incumbent Tammy Hall, a Republican, and Debbie Jackow. Jacko, who is running with no party affiliation.
Hall said Wednesday that leading up to the general election, she intends to educate the public on what she has accomplished during her time serving on the board, as well as share with voters her agenda for the next four years.
“Where I’d like to see us go,” she said.
Hall plans to run a professional, positive campaign.
“As a candidate and sitting county commissioner, I try to look at and keep things focused on the issues,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to a good campaign, and I’m hoping my opponent feels the same way,” Hall added.
“Like every election and every campaign, you go out and do the best you can and share with the community
Jackow could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In the District 1 primary, Bob Chilmonik came in as a close second Tuesday during the primary with nearly 35 percent of the votes, or 17,457 votes. Chris Berardi came in third with about 15 percent, or 7,694 votes, and Mike Jackson took fourth with nearly 14 percent of the votes, or 7,030 votes.
In the District 2 race, Cecil Pendergrass took second place with nearly 27 percent, or 13,530 votes. Dick Ripp came in third with about 20 percent, or 9,985 votes, and Sonny Haas took fourth place with just over 10 percent of the votes, or 5,127.
The District 1 seat, which encompasses Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island and Cape Coral, is scheduled to expire in 2012. The seat was left vacant by the death of Bob Janes in March. In July, Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Manning to the seat until voters could elect someone to serve out the remaining term.
The District 4 seat covers Cape Coral and North Fort Myers. While the District 2 seat encompasses Fort Myers, Cape residents can cast a ballot for the seat party-permitting because commission races are countywide.
The election results are unofficial until certified.