District 7 candidates disavow Democratic Party mailer
The Florida Democratic Party injected input in the Cape Coral City Council general election this week with a mail flier and neither the candidate supported nor the candidate targeted is happy about it.
“We keep track of municipal races all over Florida,” explained party spokesperson Max Steele in Tallahassee. “We think it is important to get the facts out there on Tim Barrier, who is running on his accounting acumen.”
The flier sharply criticizes Barrier for a 2011 IRS tax lien on his Cape Coral home. The $36,865 lien was paid off in 2013.
Barrier called the mailer a “despicable piece of mail” fraught with “half-truths.”
“Is this the best that the Democratic Party can come up with?” he said. “This is the biggest and worst dirt they can find and then smear my character and integrity?”
Barrier said that he withdrew money from a 401-k retirement account in 2009 to pay cash for his home in Cape Coral. That created a tax debt. Because it exceeded $25,000, the IRS placed a lien on the home.
“I worked out a plan with IRS which I repayed in about 2-1/2 years,” said Barrier. “IRS then released their lien.”
Not only was Barrier unhappy, but his District 7 opponent Jessica Cosden was as well.
“I am not on board with the negativity,” said Cosden. “I called Barrier just to let him know I had nothing to do with it. At the end of the day we’re still just people. I want to stay on good terms with him because I think he’s a nice guy.”
“Jessica called and said she knew nothing about it and was appalled,” said Barrier. “I take her at her word. I was very disappointed when I saw it because it is filled with half-truths.”
Cosden is not sure if that flier will help or hurt her campaign.
“I did not ask them to do the mailer,” she said. “I would be fine without them getting involved. It could hurt me because people must think I was behind it. I want to avoid the perception that it came from me. I want to keep things positive because that’s the way to go.”
Cosden said she has had support from Republicans, Democrats and non-affiliated people wanting to help her campaign.
“You see the parties involved on both sides,” Cosden said. “Everyone wants to help. I appreciate the positive, but there’s always a few people pointing out the negative.”
Steele said the mailer was the work solely of the Democrat Party and that candidates do not approve them in advance.
“Everything was of and by us at party expense,” Steele said. “I don’t know what this mailing cost at this time or if there will be other mailers.”
Although Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, they have attracted partisan interest at both the state and county level.
“I think they are some pretty heavy hitters for a local municipal election that should be non-partisan,” said Barrier. “This was the state party, not a local group.”
Barrier made reference to the Lee County Republican Executive Committee spending up to $20,000 to mail flyers to voters supporting Barrier and District 2 candidate Kirk LaGrasta, who is running against incumbent John Carioscia.
The third city council seat up for grabs is District 3 between Chris Cammarota and Marilyn Stout, both registered Republicans. The Republican Committee mailer did not address the District 3 seat.
Being a non-partisan election means registered voters can cast ballots in all district races without regard for party affiliation. Likewise, candidates run campaigns with no party affiliation.
Early voting for the council election opens on Oct. 26 and runs through Oct. 31. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.