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Civic Association forum to kick off Cape Coral municipal election season

By Staff | Jul 24, 2015

The Cape Coral Civic Association candidates forum is usually considered the unofficial start of the municipal election season.

On Tuesday, the 10 candidates from districts 2, 3 and 7 will gather at the Yacht Club Ballroom at 5819 Driftwood Parkway at 7 p.m. to introduce themselves to the public and answer any questions they may have.

For many, it will be the first time they will get the chance to speak in front of potential voters.

But that brief time on stage is vitally important and can easily make or break a candidate, for it shows their poise and their grasp of the issues.

“Candidates respond very well. We usually get a very big crowd,” said former Cape Coral city council member Alex LePera, who will moderate the event. “We’re going to have a straw poll there, where you can vote for candidates, who bring in their people, their literature and the refreshments, as is the tradition.”

Current Councilmember Richard Leon, who ran (and won) in District 4 two years ago, said the civic association traditionally has the biggest turnout, so his first time there was nerve wracking.

“It’s exciting. We have a crop of new candidates who would like to bring their ideas forward and see how they want to move the city forward,” Leon said. “A lot of the heavy lifting is done, but we still have things to consider.”

Leon said it’s one thing to talk to constituents one on one. Being able to communicate to the general public is another story.

“You have to make a first impression and do it right. If these candidates haven’t been practicing their one-minute stump speeches, they’re going to fail,” Leon said. “It’s your time to impress, and if they can’t, they sink on forums alone.”

The candidates in District 2 are the lone incumbent John Carioscia, along with Michael Bogliole, Kirk Lagrasta and Richard Repasky.

District 3 has Chris Cammarota, Jerome Doviak and Marilyn Stout battling for Lenny Nesta’s seat, who will not seek a second term.

District 7 has Timothy Barrier, Jessica Cosden and Sam Fisher fighting for the seat of termed out Councilman Derrick Donnell.

Incumbent Rana Erbrick went unopposed in District 5, giving her the automatic win. She said she will be there anyway, paying close attention to what the candidates have to say.

“I’m looking to hear their vision for the future, their ideas, what kind of knowledge they have on what the city is, what it’s doing,” Erbrick said. “I also want to see the knowledge they have gained as they go through the campaign.”

Erbrick said budget knowledge is vitally important, as it is the road map for everything the city does.

“Knowledge of the budget, how it’s spent, what is spent, are keys to be able to understand how the inner workings of the city happen,” Erbrick said. “You also need to know the other entities, the commissioners, state senators and representatives and constituents. It isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it’s who’s best at taking the wheel.”

The doors open at 6 p.m. and the public is welcome.