Council members to be sworn in Monday
When the newest members of the Cape Coral City Council are sworn in on Monday, it may be the most unique city council to date.
For the first time, there will be an equal number of men and women. There will also be a 51-year age difference between the youngest member and the oldest.
Jessica Cosden and Marilyn Stout picked up their first meeting packets Thursday, and though the first meeting is mostly ceremonial, with liaison positions to be named, it is a clear sign that they are, in fact, council members.
Almost immediately, they are going to have to deal with pressing issues such as city-owned utilities, road repairs, a new convention center and capital improvements, and that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Councilmember Rana Erbrick said the age dimension and the even split in gender will make this one of the more diverse councils to date.
“We’ll have the 50/50 split, as well as a younger person and more experienced person. I think you’re going to see with Stout a more historical perspective and brings in experience with the school and hospital board,” Erbrick said.
Stout said she was nervous the morning after the election, but those fears have subsided somewhat, leaving her ready to continue the work the city has done the last two years to get back on solid financial footing.
As for the age difference between herself and the youngest council members (Cosden and Richard Leon, 31 and 28, respectively), she sees that as a plus.
“Almost all the age groups will be represented. I’m going to be 80 next year. It is what it is, and the good Lord has smiled on me that I have good health and that’s what counts,” Stout said.
Stout said doesn’t know what the next four years will bring, but she (along with most of City Council) sees the LCEC decision being a big decision in the immediate future.
“We need to decide, allow the healing to take place and then make the franchise agreement with LCEC. I cannot see another half-billion dollars in debt for the city,” Stout said.
Stout said she also wants to see more beautification of the medians because she wants the city recognized as the heart of Southwest Florida.
“It’s a wonderful place to live, one of the safest cities, and one of the prettiest cities,” Stout said.
Cosden called being elected to council a “new excitement” for what’s to come in the next four years.
“It’s going to be a whole new world, but I’ve been doing so much learning throughout the campaign that I feel I’m ready to jump in,” Cosden said.
Cosden also sees the LCEC agreement as something that could change the future of the entire city.
Erbrick says another young voice (of a young working mother) on council will further diversify the council.
“We’re looking at a third of our council being younger (along with Mayor Marni Sawicki), and two of them more family oriented. Those priorities step out a little more than the rest of us,” Erbrick said.
John Carioscia, set to start his second term, said with the city’s financial house in order, he wants to continue the projects, such as road paving in both the north and south, the medians and utilities expansion project.
“The UEP is the foundation of our economic development. We also want to take lights down the median on Cape Coral Parkway and bring landscaping to our medians,” Carioscia said. “We need more sidewalks and streetlights and to move on with the projects our residents deserve.”
As for the new council members, Carioscia and Erbrick said the two bring a great mix.
“With Marilyn Stout’s experience and Jessica’s knowledge of the issues, I think we’re going to hit the street running,” Carioscia said.
“Once they get some of the briefings on some of the hot topics and get the background, it will help them,” Erbrick said. “It’s going to be exciting.”
The council meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.