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Candidates seek votes from CCCIA members

By Staff | Aug 17, 2015

After two weeks of forums and getting to meet the voters in a more formal setting, the 10 candidates running for city council in Districts 2, 3 and 7 have seemingly gotten more at ease on stage.

That was apparent Thursday when they gathered at the monthly dinner meeting of the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association at the Palmetto Pine Country Club, for a candidates forum in front of a standing room only crowd.

The candidates have gotten better at answering the questions posed to them, have become more knowledgeable on the subject matter, and are less afraid of posing a differing view and expressing it.

Thursday’s forum was pretty much the same as it was two weeks ago when the race kicked off at the Yacht Club, with questions slanted more toward the construction industry.

“We want the candidates to introduce themselves, give feedback to the membership as to what their stances are, and we have industry and community related questions for them,” said CCCIA president Joseph Francioni. “We also want to show humility and respect to those who stepped up to want to represent us.”

Brian Rist, the moderator, posed four questions to each cluster of candidates, giving them one minute to answer each question, before bringing all the candidates together to answer one question posed by the audience.

The candidates were questioned about construction-related topics such as Bimini Basin, permit fee and impact fee increases and what to do with Academic Village.

They were also asked about revenue diversification, privatization of city departments, pay raises for employees and members of the city council, and what kind of businesses would be good for Cape Coral.

While the candidates in District 7 were in agreement on just about everything, things got interesting with District 3 candidates when it came to revenue diversification.

Jerome Doviak supported the “three-legged stool” approach to revenue diversification. Marilyn Stout favored the fire service assessment, but not the public service tax, while Chris Cammarota was no fan of it at all, especially the fire assessment.

“There is no sunset on the FSA and no cap like they said. The FSA will be as much as your ad valorem. It’s a fact of life. They spend money,” Cammarota said. “It’s not going away and I don’t think you have the votes in city hall to get rid of it.”

The District 2 forum shaped up like it did in the first forum, with Kirk LaGrasta going on the offensive regarding the work of the current council and John Carioscia, the lone incumbent.

LaGrasta was opposed to the city taking over as an electricity provider, while Carioscia said he was neither for nor against at the moment.

LaGrasta also called the sign ordinance “utterly ridiculous.”

“The family hardware store had to go on Fox News to say they couldn’t hang the American flag because it was in the easeway,” LaGrasta said. “That gives the city negative publicity.”

Carioscia said putting an American flag on a public-use right-of-way would open the door to possibly allow “Nazi flags and ISIS flags.”

Rist said the candidates have come a long way over the last two weeks and are much better at talking in a public setting.

“At first they didn’t seem to know the basic history of the city. Now they have a better idea of the scope of the challenges in front of them,” Rist said. “They seem a little more on point on the issues.”

Rist said he has made his decision on two of the three races, adding that this is a serious decision for all voters.

“I take the future of Cape Coral very seriously. It seemed like some of it was a little too casual and joking,” Rist said. “I don’t see this as a joking matter.”

Former city council member Marty McClain said the forum was well handled and the candidates better informed, especially on subjects near and dear to the CCCIA. And it brought back memories.

“Construction is very important to our city. The candidates are at entry level and will learn the importance of construction,” McClain said. “I miss it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.”

The candidates thought they did a good job communicating their thoughts.

“The whole purpose of this is to keep the city moving forward. You need to know what people are going to bring to the city,” District 2 candidate Michael Bogliole said. “I feel with my vision of the city people believe in me.”

“This is a roller coaster. Sometimes you’re good, sometimes you’re not. I thought I had the audience tonight,” District 3 candidate Marilyn Stout said. “Everybody wants to do well. Everybody cares. It’s just many people have different approaches.”

The full slate for upcoming municipal election is:

District 2

Michael S. Bogliole

John Carioscia (incumbent)

Kirk LaGrasta

Richard Lee Repasky

District 3 (no incumbent)

Chris Cammarota

Jerome Doviak

Marilyn Stout

District 7 (no incumbent)

Timothy W. Barrier

Jessica Cosden

Samuel J. Fisher

Cape Coral municipal elections are non-partisan, citywide elections, meaning all registered voters may cast a ballot in all races regardless of party affiliation and the district in which the voter resides. (Council candidates must, however, live in the district they seek to represent.)

The Primary Election is Sept. 15. The General Election, among the top two vote getters in each race, is Nov. 3.

For those who have not yet registered for the primary, the books for registration close today, Aug. 17.

Breeze pre-election coverage may be found online at cape-coral-daily-breeze.com under News. Click on Election 2015.