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Sawicki claims mayor’s seat

By Staff | Nov 6, 2013

It had to be one for the longest, most excruciating hours of Marni Sawicki’s life as she sweated out the results from victory headquarters at Dixie Roadhouse, maintaining a wafer-thin margin for the race for mayor that was too close to call until the very end.

When the very last precinct came in and she had officially won, Sawicki and her small group of volunteers celebrated its 113-vote victory over incumbent mayor John Sullivan to become the first female mayor in Cape Coral history.

Sawicki said it wasn’t a matter of gender, but rather the direction in which the voters wanted the city to go.

“It hasn’t sunk in. A lot of planning. A lot of work went into this,” Sawicki said.

As for Sullivan, he said the voters had spoken.

“It is what it is. The way I see it, I have my life back again,” Sullivan said.

Sawicki garnered 50.36 percent of the vote (8,010) to Sullivan’s 49.64 percent (7,897), just barely enough to avoid the .5 percent needed to trigger an automatic recount.

The moment wasn’t lost on those she would soon be joining behind the dais. John Carioscia and outgoing Councilmember Marty McClain stopped by to congratulate her and Richard Leon, the District 4 winner.

“I’m looking forward to working with the new council and moving the city forward,” Carioscia said. “It’s all good. The voters made the decision.”

Sawicki, one of three challengers who unseated incumbents on Tuesday, was a lesser-known name in local political circles when she began her march toward the mayorship in January.

But her second-place finish out of six other contenders in the primary put her in the general election. From there, she and her small but driven team pounded the pavement.

“These women worked so hard. It wasn’t an I thing, it was a we thing,” Sawicki said. “You can never discount what a small group can do. This win goes to my entire team.”

Sawicki said she already knew what she would do for her first meeting; use a bedazzled gavel. After that, she looked forward to the kind of council she would work with.

“I expect positive, smart growth for Cape Coral. I also look forward to working with a smart, diverse council,” Sawicki said.

Sullivan was asked if he thought some last-minute controversies, including his appearance against the city at the recent bond validation hearing, may have swayed voters.

Sullivan said he had no regrets about fighting against the fire assessment.

“If I had to do it over again, I would,” Sullivan said. “When we went to court to stop the city from that bond validation, we did the right thing.”

Sawicki pointed to her team, saying it was the hard work that won the night.

“I think it was about qualifications and the ability to lead,” Sawicki said. “Plus, Janis Keim (campaign manager) put me in front of the right people.”

As for Sullivan’s advice to the new mayor, “Do the best you can and hopefully you’ll do some good for the residents and taxpayers of the city of Cape Coral.”