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NW Cape Neighborhood Association holds second candidates forum

By Staff | Aug 31, 2011

More than 100 people turned out for the Northwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association’s second candidate forum at Mariner High School, which included all three incumbents and newcomers from each of the four races.

Some topics were specific to the north Cape voters, but Neighborhood Association President Stella Peters said it was important to present the candidates as if they had no district lines since they’re elected at large.

Candidates were presented by district, only by their availability.

“They’re elected at large, so we’re not just concerned about issues that affect the Northwest Cape,” Peters added.

The Utilities Expansion Project was, of course, a subject that’s important for everyone in the city, although northern residents are still wondering when centralized sewer and water will be theirs.

District 2 incumbent Pete Brandt said the city needs a plan and bi-monthly Committee of the Whole meetings have been an effort to work toward that goal, but didn’t say what that plan was.

“We can’t give you date when (we can restart), it has to be conditional,” Brandt said.

Challenger John Carioscia felt that lower construction costs should have given the city enough reason to at least re-bid the project to give residents some idea of how it would impact their bottom lines.

“We’re not going to know what it’s going to cost unless we set out to bid,” he added.

One question specific to north Cape voters was whether or not the candidates felt the city’s commercial tax base deficit should be made up in the northwest, due to abundance of vacant land.

District 5 candidate Richard Leon said he feels the north Cape offers unique opportunities for the city to maybe fix mistakes made in the past.

“The opportunity for north Cape Coral is that we’re able to use smart growth. We can get ahead of the curve,” Leon said.

District 7 candidate Dave Stokes thinks it’s important to fill empty commercial pace before looking to develop empty land up north.

With several candidates suggesting waiving impact fees as a way to generate development for the city, the NWNA wanted to know what the impact to the city would be.

District 3 incumbent Bill Deile said some employee salaries are paid using impact fees and it isn’t the answer to simply waive all impact fees. It’s more complex than that, he said.

“It’s not a one size fits all,” Deile said. “We have to analyze the market, set price points and create specific packages.”

Peters said the forums have given voters a good opportunity to get to know the candidates, especially the newcomers who are not only campaigning but also learning how to navigate the local political scene.

She said she feels people walked away with a clear understanding of the candidates’ positions.

“They all made their points,” Peters said of the candidates. “I think it was very clear to the audience where they stood.”