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Newcomers claim three council seats

By Staff | Nov 9, 2011

Two incumbent council members were shown the door by voters while one survived on Tuesday night, joining one local political newcomer to change the make-up, and no doubt the voting bloc, of city council for at least the next two years.

Council members Pete Brandt and Bill Deile were bested by challengers John Carioscia and Lenny Nesta, while Dr. Derrick Donnell beat David Stokes and Rana Erbrick outlasted WIlliam “Scott” Morris to claim the four available seats.

Carioscia beat Brandt in District 2 with 56.90 percent of the vote; Nesta topped Deile in District 3 with 55.46 percent of the vote; Erbrick took the race from Morris with 53.45 percent of the vote; and Donnell won over Stokes with 51.25 percent of the vote.

Joyce Cole, a 35-year Cape resident, said recent actions by council members and City Manager Gary King, in particular his desire for an added bonus to his salary, tipped the scale in favor of the challengers.

“I don’t think they’re doing what they’re supposed to do,” Cole said. “They’re thinking of themselves and not the people or the city as a whole.”

For some voters, like Doris Schroeder, the election came down to a single issue. Schroeder said information about the pension for at least one candidate got her to the polls.

“I’m very upset some people are making a $90,000 pension,” Schroeder said. “There are so many hungry people and that’s insane. It’s not right.”

Yet, regardless of where the ideologies or support fell for voters, there were still very few who headed to the polls to cast their ballots.

Final calculations from the Lee County Elections Office won’t be available until Thursday, but between elections in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, only 16.48 percent of all registered voters made their voices heard.

Of the 122,073 registered voters, only 20,115 people cast votes in the two cities.

Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said she wasn’t surprised by the turnout as only 11 percent of voters cast ballots during the Cape Coral primary election.

“Everybody wants to vote for the president but nobody wants to vote for their city council candidates,” Harrington said. “Those candidates could be your neighbor.”

“Every vote counts,” Harrington added.

Voters also had the option of endorsing changes to three amendments to the city’s charter; they shot down two while approving one.

Voters said no to allowing city council members to establish personnel standards without recommendation of the city manager; voters rejected allowing city council members to deal with city employees directly regarding inquiries and investigations; while voters said yes to altering the amount to be paid upon without-cause termination of assistant managers and department heads.