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Carla Johnston falls short in campaign for District 1

By Staff | Nov 3, 2010

Carla Johnston makes her concession speech in front of a small group of supporters on Tuesday night.

Carla Brooks Johnston’s bid to become the next Sanibel resident to sit on the Lee County Board of County Commissioners has ended, with all three incumbents earning victories in Tuesday’s general election.

In the District 1 race, Commissioner John Manning of Cape Coral kept his seat with 113,041 votes, or 67.48 percent of the total number of ballots cast. Johnston garnered 54,478 votes, or 32.52 percent of the total.

A Cape Coral resident, Manning ran as a Republican. Johnston ran with no party affiliation.

Manning could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Johnston made her concession speech before a small group of island supporters at Ellington’s Jazz Club and Restaurant.

“I want to thank all of you. Everyone did a fantastic job on the campaign,” said Johnston, the former mayor of Sanibel. “What we tried to do, which is most important if we’re looking to solve any of the problems we’re facing, is to bring together every spectrum of voters in Lee County. And I think we were successful in doing that.”

Johnston, who had been seeking to replace the late Bob Janes on the commission, took time to recognize the 153 volunteers who worked on her campaign as well as more than 300 financial contributors.

“We are really at a moment of opportunity,” she said. “I am hoping that all of the people who worked on my campaign remain active in politics. Be a participant, not a spectator.”

In the District 2 race, Commissioner Brian Bigelow was re-elected with 108,861 votes, or 65.58 percent of the total. His opponent, Debbie Jordan, earned 57,131 votes, or 34.42 percent of the final total.

Bigelow was on the Republican ticket, while Jordan was on the Democratic.

“I’m thrilled and humbled and honored to be rehired,” Bigelow said. “The work was difficult, but it was worth it.”

Jordan could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Looking forward to continuing the hard work on the county commission, Bigelow said there is much to do in the next four years.

“We definitely need to bring down the cost of county government,” he said. “I believe we need to rein in suburban sprawl. We need to do a whole lot more to protect our environment.”

Bigelow said he had ideas on how to accomplish these goals, but he will need the support of his fellow commissioners and a majority vote from the board.

“There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us,” he said. “There will be some challenging times.”

In the District 4 race, Commissioner Tammy Hall swept her opponent with 110,489 votes, or 67.62 percent. Debbie Jackow pulled 52,909 votes, or 32.38 percent of the total number counted.

Hall ran as a Republican, while Jackow ran with no party affiliation.

“I’m very honored to have the opportunity to serve another four years,” Hall said. “Lee County is a wonderful, wonderful community.”

Jackow could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

As for the next four years, Hall said the commission needs to focus on creating an environment in the private sector that encourages job growth and that it needs to focus on growth management, among others things.

“We absolutely need to continue to deal with our budget,” she said. “And we really need to have a strong vision for Lee County.”

Hall thanked Jackow and looks forward to working with her in the future.

“She ran a very professional campaign,” she said.

All 171 precincts in the county had been accounted for late Tuesday evening.

Lee County Commission seats have a term of four years.

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 could cast a ballot for the seat party-permitting because commission races are countywide.

Also, the Captiva Erosion Bond Referendum was approved, with 76.56 percent of voters casting ballots in favor of bonds. The finally tally was 160 votes for the bonds and 49 votes against.

(Staff writer Tiffany Repecki contributed to this report.)