Cape Coral city election drawing new faces
With District 5 council member Erick Kuehn bowing out of the race, Richard Leon is thus far the only announced candidate in that district.
Leon is one of a handful of new faces on the local political scene vying for a council seat. And with Kuehn now out, that leaves Pete Brandt in District 2 as the only incumbent who has formally announced his intention to seek another term of marathon Monday night meetings.
District 3’s Bill Deile previously said he would not run, but found support through an online petition that asked him to do so. He has not made a formal statement either way.
Nor has District 7’s Derrick Donnell announced whether he plans to seek reelection.
Leon, however, said he was ready to get to work should he be elected and that his age, 24, works for him, not against him.
“The average age in the city is getting younger,” he said. “There’s been no representation for us. Council is making decisions that will affect me 30 years from now. We want our input, too.”
Leon was vying for the District 2 seat, but he said he moved in with his grandfather to lend a hand. His grandfather lives in District 5.
A Cape High graduate and Publix employee, Leon said he plans on making an “official” announcement about his candidacy at the Sunset Celebration at the Yacht Club pier in June.
“My main goal is to inform people what council is and why they should care about voting,” Leon said of his planned June 1 announcement.
With months still to go to the officials qualifying period, District 2 is a little bit more crowded than 5.
Along with incumbent Pete Brandt, who announced his re-election bid early, District 2 also features John Miehle and John Carioscia as announced candidates for the seat.
Brandt is a retired aerospace engineer, while both Miehle and Carioscia are retired law enforcement officers.
Carioscia also worked for the city in the Department of Community Development. And like Leon, he, too plans on making an official announcement at the Sunset Celebration on June 1.
He said the No. 1 issue facing the city right now is the Utilities Expansion Project, which must be restarted.
“I think we’ve got ratepayers carrying the entire financial load,” he said. “Why they stopped it two years ago is beyond me.”
Carioscia said the mood among city employees right now is unhealthy, and it is important to move away from perceived negativity into something more positive.
As a former city worker, Carioscia said he would be able to understand how city workers are feeling. He added that the negativity is being bred by the council majority.
“Having five councilmen from the same group with all of the power and authority and influence is not healthy,” he said.
While it’s not yet known whether Donnell will take another run for the seat, much like District 2, District 7 is already crowded with three potential candidates.
Charlotte County firefighter David Stokes said he’d like to see the city focus more intently economic development throughout the city.
“Our No. 1 problem is we need to bring new business and industry to the city to ease the tax burden to our residents,” he said. “We need to get the unemployed back to work in the city and attract people from other areas to use our services.”
Stokes said the city has become decidedly diverse and it is important to embrace that diversity moving forward.
“I’m open minded, and I want to work with everyone. We need to solve the issues together,” he said. “What can we do to create more opportunities to move the city forward?”
Stokes and Donnell have competition from Richard Holler, a retired law enforcement officer, who said he waited on the new district lines to be drawn before he decided to throw his hat in the ring.
Formerly in District 6, Holler said he was dissatisfied with the representation in District 7 and wanted to do something about it.
Holler said he’s been an advocate as a private citizen, but realized he could make a bigger impact as an elected official. He said he’s current on all the challenges facing the city.
“I go to all the council meetings, workshops, and so forth to bring myself up to date and stay educated on everything that happens behind the scenes, all the working mechanisms before it gets to council.”
Holler said the most critical issue facing the city will be the budget cycle, which is facing further declines in revenue.
“The important challenge is budget and finances … we have a lot of debt we have to take care of,” he said.
Another candidate, Erica Nicole Warren, could not be reached for comment.
District 3 has only one candidate at the moment. Karie Rathbun, who sits on the city’s charter school board, could not be reached for comment.
The City of Cape Coral will hold its Primary and General Elections for Districts 2, 3, 5, and 7 on Sept. 13 and Nov. 8, respectively.
The official qualifying period for potential candidates will begin Tuesday, July 5, at 7:30 a.m. and end Friday, July 8, at noon.
Since this period coincides with a holiday, the Cape Coral City Clerk’s Office will provide a pre-qualification period to begin Monday, June 27, at 7:30 a.m. and end Friday, July 1, at noon to allow the office to accept and hold qualifying documents for candidates who may not be available during the holiday week, the city’s website states. All documents received during the pre-qualification period will not be processed until the official qualifying period.
Detailed information on the elections process, including frequently asked questions, forms and submittal dates, may be found on the Elections Pages on the city’s website, capecoral.net .