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Cape mayor takes issue with Beach council member’s tone

By Staff | May 17, 2016

Coming to the defense of Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane, Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki scolded Fort Myers Beach Town Council member Tracey Gore during a town workshop Monday before leaving the room.

Gore often questioned Ruane during his presentation on the merits of the C-43 reservoir as one of the first steps toward storing excess water coming from Lake Okeechobee. Fort Myers Beach has been one of the communities hardest hit this year with its polluted-water releases.

Gore debated that the C-43 plan did not include a water-quality treatment component, which Ruane acknowledged.

At the conclusion of Ruane’s presentation to the Town Council, Sawicki interjected.

“Your response and how you respond to people won’t get you very far in this future of how we get things done and you can either be an advocate and work with us and let us know when things aren’t working or come up with your own solution and do your own thing,” Sawicki said to Gore. “But I personally, speaking for myself, do not appreciate the tone that you use – it does nothing to grow us or bring us together.”

Responded Gore, “Are you trying to be adversarial?”

“Kind of,” Sawicki said. “Kind of like you.”

Then Gore said, “What is your problem?” as Sawicki, Ruane and other members of their party left the council chambers.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dennis Boback said “That’s enough, that’s enough” in trying to regain control. “Let’s move on. Again, I’d like to thank you folks for coming in and making your presentation. I appreciate it.”

Vice-mayor Summer Stockton said “I’m not going to tolerate that.”

The council then took a break at the request of council member Anita Cereceda, who was clearly distraught.

“It’s unfortunate we can’t have an exchange of ideas without making it personal,” Cereceda said afterward. “Clearly, as it was stated several times, everyone wants to improve water quality. We shouldn’t be battling each other over the details.”

Cereceda is a former mayor and worked often with Lee County’s other five mayors on water-quality issues. Ruane has been the lead voice in that process.

The group will meet again June 22 and Boback said Monday he’d be attending the meeting and working in the same capacity as Cereceda did for the past two years.

After the break, Stockton reiterated her displeasure with Sawicki.

“I don’t care if you’re the president, the mayor or a resident of Palermo (Circle, her street of residence),” she said. “I don’t accept behavior from anyone like that. They should have been kicked out.”

Later, while the council was discussing another agenda item and Boback referred to the other members as “girls,” Cereceda walked out and did not return for the balance of the workshop.

“I find that very sexist and disrespectful to the entire council,” she said afterward.