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New council sworn in

By Staff | Nov 19, 2013

A standing room only crowd packed into the Cape Coral City Council chambers Monday to witness the swearing in of a new mayor and three new council members.

The outgoing mayor and councilmen said their goodbyes, all of them receiving applause for their hard work the last four years.

In their place, the first female mayor, the youngest council member in the history of the city, a former councilman and mayor and a city activist took their oaths of office in what was a largely ceremonial meeting Monday at City Hall.

There was some business the former council had to tackle, and that was to certify the results of the Nov. 5 city elections, which passed by a 7-1 vote. Mayor John Sullivan opposed because he is seeking a recount of the results in the mayoral race.

With that, Sullivan, Chris Chulakes-Leetz, Marty McClain and Kevin McGrail received plaques and a final farewell, while offering their parting thoughts.

“I know there were people who didn’t agree with me, but there were others who did,” Sullivan said before making an indirect reference to the election by saying, “Next time, please vote. It’s very important.”

“It’s not about who’s sitting on city council, it’s about the principles. I have faith Mr. Leon will honor those principles,” Chulakes-Leetz said.

“My wife will very much like for me to be her husband again instead of that masked man passing through on his way to his many jobs,” McGrail said. “Thank you for all you do to keep Cape Coral the city we all love to call home.”

Marni Sawicki was then sworn in as mayor as was former mayor Jim Burch representing District 1, Richard Leon in District 4 and Rick Williams in District 6.

Sawicki was visibly nervous as she convened a new meeting to order and said as much as she called a new roll call and then a 30-minute recess so loved ones could congratulate the new members and the press could interview them.

“It was a little more daunting than the practice ones. It’s been a whirlwind and I’m still a little overwhelmed. Next week you will see a different me,” Sawicki said.

There was still business to perform as Sawicki reconvened the meeting using the hot pink bedazzled gavel she promised to use for the first meeting, courtesy of her daughter..

Councilmember Rana Erbrick was approved to remain mayor pro-tem, while the council was appointed to the myriad of committees on which they are expected to serve, replacing those no longer in office.

Councilmember Derrick Donnell may have given the best advice to Sawicki in closing comments, saying, “the honeymoon lasts for about three weeks, so get ready when Dec. 9 comes around.”

After the city council meeting, a special Community Redevelopment Agency meeting was convened, where Erbrick was reappointed as chairperson, with Burch, whose district comprises most of the CRA, named vice chair.

The new members were thrilled to get to work in earnest, confident it will be a kinder, gentler council, especially to each other.

“Having done it through some difficult years, I’m looking forward to better years. We have a very positive council and I’m looking forward to working with them,” Burch said. “Diversity is a good thing for everybody and I’m looking forward to all the points of view.”