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Four races on the General Election ballot

By Staff | Sep 12, 2013

With the primary for the mayoral and District 1 council races now behind them, the top two candidates in each, as well as those in Districts 4 and 6, will embark on an eight-week sprint to the Nov. 5 General Election.

And seeing how few people voted in the primary – less than 8 percent of those registered – every vote earned will count.

Incumbent mayor John Sullivan, 70, an eight-year resident, will face Marni Sawicki, 43, a four-year resident who works in marketing and is seeking to become the first female mayor in the city’s history.

It will be “onward and upward, and I’m going for the win. I think people appreciate what I do for them and I appreciate what they do for me,” Sullivan said after learning he had cleared the primary Tuesday night with nearly 37 percent of the vote.

Sullivan was the top vote-getter in the six-way race that advanced the top two.

For Sawicki, the next phase on the campaign trail will continue to be about bringing people together.

“This city needs to be united and set the direction of where we want to go,” Sawicki said. “I would be naive to think the voters of those who lost will come to my side. It’s just that we can go down the path of doing nothing or we can unite and do it together.”

In District 1, former councilman and mayor Jim Burch, 62, a 21-year Cape resident, will face 72-year-old David Headd, who has lived in Cape Coral for 25 years and works in real estate.

Burch, the top vote-getter in the four-way primary race with 57 percent of the vote, said he isn’t as concerned about his opponent as he is about his message.

“We want to put out the same message we’ve been putting out, and that we want a civil council, we want leadership experience and want to engage the state on revenues,” Burch said. “I don’t run against an opponent, I run on what I believe in.”

Headd has a different philosophy. He wants to differentiate between the two messages, look at Burch’s past and convince voters his will be the best way.

“We have vastly different points of view and I have to get that out to the people,” Headd said. “We need to look at his record the last time he was in office very carefully. We can’t go down that road again.”

Coming to the forefront following the primary, the District 4 race features the incumbent, Chris Chulakes-Leetz, a 16-year resident, and challenger Richard Leon, 26, who has spent nearly his entire life in Cape Coral.

Neither indicated they had a change in strategy planned.

“I plan to continue to communicate with the residents of Cape Coral in all available vehicles and in a financially affordable manner,” Chulakes-Leetz said.

“I’ll continue to talk to the residents, telling them who I am and what I’ll bring,” Leon said. “The residents want to see new leadership in District 4.”

In District 6, incumbent Kevin McGrail, 57, a 24-year resident who works in the medical field, is moving into overdrive for the upcoming weeks.

“You will see my signs go up all over the city and see me take an active campaign role. I stepped back because of all the candidates and I didn’t want to put my signs up and have them inadvertently taken down,” McGrail said.

Rick Williams, 68, a retired resident of nine years, believes he has an edge, since he can devote more time to campaigning and the job, provided he wins.

“The idea is to get out and meet people, get my platform across and let them know who I am,” Williams said. “McGrail already has a full-time job, so I have a lot more time to put into this.”

The trick for all these candidates may be to get citizens to go to the polls. Only 7,743 votes were cast out of 101,951 eligible voters, or 7.59 percent Tuesday night in the two-race primary.

Of the 1,247 absentee ballots mailed, only 752 were returned. Also, 1,767 voted early, according to statistics provided by the Lee County Elections Office.

Lee Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington was out of town and unable to comment.

The General Election is Nov. 5, with Early Voting set for Oct. 28-31 and Nov. 1-2

Voter Registration books will close Oct. 7, meaning that will be the last day to register to vote in the election for those who have not registered.

Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide elections meaning registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.