Candidates begin to ‘qualify’ for city election
As Friday’s noon deadline for this year’s municipal election draws near, the field of potential candidates is shaping up with a majority of the announced names having filed the necessary qualifying paperwork.
Incumbent Bill Deile is among those who qualified for District 3, saying Wednesday that he decided to take another run at retaining his seat so he could complete work already begun by the current council.
“We’ve started a lot of positive things. Some of them are complete, many are works in progress and some are in the queue, all of which are opportunities to make things better in this city,” he said.
Deile said he was serious about an earlier statement he made in which he said preferred to serve in Iraq instead of on city council.
A retired Army colonel, Deile said the statement was made “somewhat in jest,” but that he did volunteer for duty after 9/11 and was rejected.
After his wife decided against a run for the seat, and having no found no other candidate from the district he could support, Deile said he decided he should run again.
A citizen petition effort that encouraged Deile to run was another motivating factor, as was the reception he received during public events.
“A motivating factor was the number of people that approached me and told me I would be missed,” Deile said. “Every time I go to an event someone comes up to me and tells me I have to do it.”
As of Wednesday, Deile will face retired school teacher Alan Sheppard, who also qualified.
A newcomer on the political landscape, Sheppard, 70, worked as a school teacher in New York City, on Long Island and in the Lee County School System, he said.
Sheppard said he’s been encouraged by friends and neighbors to run for city council, hoping his victory would signal a new direction for the city.
“Some people feel there is a stagnation going on, that the city is not reaching out into the future,” he said. “A lot of people aren’t happy with the present council members and they want to see some change.”
So far, Deile and Sheppard are the only names to qualify in District 3.
Incumbent Pete Brandt, John Caroscia, John Miehle and Joseph Coviello all have qualified for the District 2 seat, while announced Dan Sheppard had not filed the paperwork.
Incumbent Derrick Donnell, David Stokes and Michael Garr have qualified in District 7, while announced candidates Erica Nicole Warren and Richard Holler had not qualified, as of Wednesday.
In District 5, where sitting council member Erick Kuehn already announced that he will not run, Richard Leon, Rana Erbrick, Charles Stanton, Bennie Barnes and William “Scott” Morris have qualified.
Morris applied to appointed to the District 5 seat last year when Eric Grill was suspended from office by the governor, but the appointment eventually went to Kuehn, a decision that would prove controversial for the council majority that voted him in.
Morris, 55, ended up being appointed the Charter Review Commission, which studied and eventually presented potential changes to the city charter to the city council.
Having practiced law for 20 years in Cape Coral, he said it was important for the citizens and those outside of the city to see beyond the negative.
“I want to improve the image of the city for the citizens and the employees,” Morris said. “We’ve been the red-headed step-child of Lee County and we need to make people proud to say they live in Cape Coral.”
Morris said it was also important to have a cross section of people on the council, from different business backgrounds and different standings in the community.
As an attorney and small business owner, Morris said he’d make a good representative of several groups.
“I’m a glass half full person. Just having positive encouragement and excitement can definitely help,” he said.
Candidates must live in the district they represent but run at large, meaning registered voters can cast a ballot in each race.
Early voting for the non-partisan primary is Sept. 3 – 10; election day is Sept. 13.
Early voting for the non partisan general election runs Oct. 31 – Nov. 5; election day is Nov. 8.