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New direction for Cape Council? Three newcomers means change

By Staff | Nov 12, 2011

New council faces will hopefully mean a new sense of direction and purpose for at least one sitting council member.

Kevin McGrail said Friday no contracts will have to be signed, no allegiances will have to be sworn for the new council members.

And at the end of the day the only thing he wants from the newly elected will be a renewed positivity for the city.

“The new mantra should be, if you can’t say something positive about the city, its employees or residents, just shut up,” McGrail joked, adding, “There needs to be much more positive information coming out about our council.”

Results of Tuesday’s election will mean a dramatic shift of power on council, now that the 5 – 3 voting bloc has been disrupted.

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 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 challenger 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.

The new members will be sworn in Monday.

Fears by some that a union backed council were also allayed on Tuesday when just two of the four union-backed candidates were elected.

Professional Fire Fighters Union Local 2424 President Mark Muerth said some residents might feel more comfortable with that result. And that council will have hopefully have a more even keeled, independent approach to setting policy.

“There’s a well-balanced representation in the dais,” Muerth said. “We’ve known it’s not just about the unions getting rid of the incumbents. There were a number of citizens who were tired of the antics.”

Sixteen percent of registered voters cast their ballots during the general election, a number that was a bit higher than during the primary but nowhere close to indicating that a large selection of registered voters were engaged in their local election process.

Eileyn Sobeck-Bador, whose Facebook page “Get Out and Vote … Take Back the Cape” often drew the ire of some council members, said that 16 percent wasn’t close to their target.

“It’s pretty dismal when you think about it,” she said. “We were hoping for 25 percent turn out.”

New Councilmember Rana Erbrick said she hopes the council will have a “calming effect,” on not only citizens but employees, too.

“It feels a little calmer around city hall, the tension lessened,” Erbrick added.

Kevin McGrail said one the first changes could be to the city manager’s records request policy, which unilaterally dropped the threshold for “extensive” records requests from an hour to 15 minutes.

McGrail called the new policy “appalling.”

“The focus of governing this city is going back to the city council,” McGrail said. “When the bloc of council members got together, they gave away much of our authority and responsibility to the city manager.”

Lyndia Bradley, president of the Cape Coral Civic Association, just hopes that future decisions are made in the public realm.

The perceived failure by some on council to listen to public input was a common criticism.

But, at the end of the day, all Bradley wants is a positive direction for the city.

“Overall, I’m hoping the attitude will become more positive,” she said.

Cape Coral Republican Club President John Cataldi could not be reached for comment.