Qualifying requires forms and fees
Qualifying for the Cape Coral municipal election can be a complex and overwhelming process, according to Rebecca van Deutekom, but the city clerk said several steps must be taken so candidates not only comply with the law but understand the path that lies before them.
The qualifying period for the 2011 election closes at noon Friday. At press time Wednesday, 14 candidates in four district races had qualified to run.
But, announcing your candidacy is different from actually taking the necessary steps to qualify.
Most of the candidates thus far started the process by filing an appointment of a treasurer or deputy treasurer, which must be done before opening a campaign bank account.
The city clerk’s office then opens a “campaign file” on those who have filed their treasurer information, but the candidate is not yet official. They must next wait for the qualifying period, which brings with it a host of official documentation and the necessary fees.
Some people simply wait to file everything at once during the qualifying period. But there are others who don’t make it passed filing their treasurer paperwork because they didn’t realize how complex the process is.
“It’s normal for them to feel overwhelmed. The information they need to have access to is significant,” van Deutekom added.
During the qualifying period candidates have to pay two separate fees.
Totaling $256.52, the fee includes $100 for filing and $156.52 for an election assessment fee, which represents 1 percent of the annual salary for the office which candidates are seeking. When the mayor’s seat is up for election, that 1 percent is higher because the mayor’s annual salary is a little bit more than that of a council person.
Candidates receive a handbook which, at roughly 20 pages, contains all the necessary information and forms needed during the qualifying period.
Candidates also receive copies of two sections of the state statutes pertaining to the election and campaign processes.
Section 104 deals with the election code. While 106 deals with campaign finances.
Candidates then have to sign a form verifying they have read and understood both sections, according to van Deutekom.
“The law indicates we have to provide copies of both sections of the statute,” she added.
With all forms filed, all fees paid, candidates can then go about their business of trying to win the confidence of the people, but they are still required to file financial reports, the frequency of which increases as the election draws near.
Early voting for the non partisan primary is Sept. 3 – 10; election day is Sept. 13.
Early voting for the general election runs Oct. 31 – Nov. 5; election day is Nov.8.
Candidates must live in the district they represent but run at large, meaning registered voters can cast a ballot in each race.
Rebecca van Deutekom is encouraging potential candidates with any questions to contact the City Clerk’s office at 574-0411, or visit them online at capecoral.net.