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Residents take advantage of ‘Speed politics’

By Staff | May 10, 2011

“Speed” was the name of the game Tuesday night when local politicians and citizens got together for some face time at Tarpon Point.
The Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce hosted the event, dubbed “Speed Politics”, which was organized and executed much like speed dating. Small groups of citizens got about 10 minutes each with four city council members, four Lee County Commissioners and City Manager Gary King.
“You never know what to expect,” said Mayor John Sullivan, who fielded a wide variety of questions. “But citizens have a right to ask questions and get answers.”
Roughly 80 people took part in the event, according to Annette Carrasquillo, from the Chamber.
Carrasquillo said the Chamber waits for feedback from its members or participants before deciding if anything needs to be tweaked. But the event, now in its second year, has been well received.
Carrasquillo added that she ran into one participant who didn’t even know the Lee County commissioners represented Cape Coral. It’s that kind of education that makes it worthwhile, she said.
“We always learn something new,” Carrasquillo said. “Hopefully next year we can get the entire city council and all of the county commissioners.”
Dennis Miehle said he liked seeing the commissioners interacting with Cape residents.
Miehle said he was getting all of his questions answered.
“I think they’re all being honest,” he said. “But I really want to see the city be more proactive instead of reactive. We need to be looking forward not back.”
Pauline Whalen enjoyed the intimacy of the event, getting to speak with the politicians in a one- on-one setting. Whalen thought the event was really well organized.
“They really did a wonderful job. Everyone is getting a chance to participate,” Whalen added. Francisco Brea, who has economic development as the city’s top need, said his ideas were being well received. Brea would like to see a water taxi operate out of the Yacht Club to Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel, as well as a larger sports-like bar built at the city landmark which would act as a port for the water taxi. Brea said the water taxi would also work to bring people from other communities into Cape Coral, and that the city could benefit from an influx of people from the other side of the river.
“Cape Coral doesn’t know what we want to be. Do we want to be strictly residential? Do we want to attract business? We have to go through a little bit of pain to move the city forward,” Brea said.