New council members look ahead
Four newly elected Cape Coral City Council members will officially take their respective seats Monday at a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall.
Joining the four current council members, the newcomers are hoping that the new board will be one of the most productive as well as diverse the city has seen.
It will start with the person in the center chair, where Marni Sawicki will take the gavel and be expected to run the meetings and city immediately.
About the only adjustment period she’ll have is the eight months she spent attending meetings to get a feel for how they’re run.
“I’m going to hit the ground running. That’s why I’ve been there so I can pick up and keep running,” Sawicki said.
But it’s the diversity that Sawicki is looking forward to working with.
“We’re going to see a lot of independent thinking and hopefully there won’t be an 8-0 or 7-1 vote. I hope for us to have very diverse ideas and goals for the city,” Sawicki said.
One of the new members who can relate to the challenge Sawicki faces is Jim Burch from District 1, a former councilman and mayor.
“I was very cognizant of the council around me. I can’t do much helping along the way (Sunshine Laws). We talked prior to elections and she knows my feelings with how people conduct themselves in office,” Burch said. “She’s one of eight council members and she needs to allow her council to participate with her. It’s great to have a group around you and not just one person.”
Burch hopes to use his previous experience as a councilman and mayor to gain something of a leadership role and to help council gain historical perspective.
Whatever goals and roles the other new members take on council depend on the person. New District 6 Councilmember Rick Williams said his immediate goal is to learn to be a councilman as quickly as possible.
“I need to get involved with the office and the city and get totally up to date of the issues now that I have access to the information council has,” Williams said. “I think with this council you will see the contentious issues get less contentious. There will be more collaboration and more moving forward.”
Richard Leon in District 4 will provide the perspective of young people. At 26, he is the youngest council member by far. As such, he believes it will take some time to find a niche.
“My main focus is to make sure a generation that hasn’t had a voice now does. As the youngest member, I can speak for my generation,” Leon said.
But he also sees the need for the council to build relationships with the citizens, which is why he is proposing an open house for council.
“We want to invite the community and get used to the offices and tell them the door is open 24/7,” Leon said.
As for the sitting members of council, the new mix offers the city an exciting opportunity to bring about change in Cape Coral.
“I think we should support the new mayor and bring fresh ideas to the council. Work on options and move the city forward,” John Carioscia said. “In a word, awesome.”