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Coviello, Hollow advance in mayor’s race

By Staff | Oct 3, 2017

From a pool of seven candidates, only two moved closer to claiming the mayor’s seat Tuesday.

Of the 154,624 people registered to vote in the municipal Primary Elections for the cities of Cape Coral and Fort Myers, a total of 20,778 voters cast a ballot – a voter turnout of 13.44 percent.

In the Cape, Joe Coviello came in as the top vote-getter in the mayoral race with 4,662 votes or 31.42 percent. He was followed up by Michael D. Hollow, who garnered 2,711 votes or 18.27 percent.

Both candidates will move forward to the General Election set for Nov. 7.

Coviello said he was excited for the opportunity to do so.

“I’m very humbled that I received the type of support I got, not only from the community, but from all of the campaign volunteers, the residents and some of the organizations that backed me,” he said.

His campaign will continue to focus on the positive and promote his qualities as a candidate.

“I think the results speak for themselves that we had a solid campaign over the last several months,” Coviello said.

He explained that his campaign team relied on newer methods like social media and a video campaign to get his message across, as well as utilized more traditional methods including mailers and such.

“We’re going to just continue running a very positive campaign,” Coviello said.

He added that he wants the Cape to be a place to live, work and play.

“I’m looking forward to moving Cape Coral on a sustainable prosperous path,” Coviello said.

He voiced his respect for the other candidates who are not moving forward.

“Putting yourself out there and campaigning is a very difficult thing,” Coviello said. “I respect the fact that they worked hard and they did a good job, that all of them ran what I considered for the most part a respectable campaign.”

As for the low voter turnout, he cited several possible factors.

“It’s an off election year,” Coviello said, adding that early voting was interrupted by Hurricane Irma, then people were in the process of recovering. “That threw a lot of people’s lives upside down.”

Hollow was also thrilled Tuesday to be moving forward.

“We’re excited that we had the turnout, that we had the supporters that we had,” he said. “We’re fortunate enough that we’re moving on.”

Asked about the next step, Hollow had a clear plan in place.

“We’ve already established a game plan for what we’re going to do moving forward,” he said.

Hollow noted that he will continue with his grassroots campaigning.

“My game plan is to make sure that we bring a positive atmosphere to Cape Coral and change the focus and change the vision of it,” he said. “The last couple of years have been turmoiled with negatively.”

As for the candidates not moving on, Hollow thanked them for their participation.

“We all have our own visions and our own objectives that we want to achieve and across the board I think we had a great working relationship amongst each other,” he said.

Hollow commended the candidates in all of the races for promoting the election.

“I think all the candidates have done a really good job to get the message out to get people voting,” he said. “I thank all the people who did actually come out and vote, regardless of who you voted for.”

Hollow pointed out that local elections are just as important as presidential elections.

“They have another opportunity come November,” he said of those who did not vote.

Trailing just behind Coviello and Hollow, Derrick Donnell picked up third place by claiming 2,081 votes or 14.02 percent. He did not immediately return a message Tuesday seeking comment on the election results.

Fourth place went to April Freeman, who gained 1,692 votes or 11.40 percent.

Freeman was surprised by the results Tuesday.

“I ended up right in the middle,” she said.

Freeman thanked her supporters and those who voted for her, adding that the majority of the candidates in the mayoral race played fair on the campaign trail.

Asked about the loss, she cited the presence of politics in a nonpartisan race.

“The Republicans started off early pointing out who their candidates were,” Freeman said. “The Democratic Party did not get involved. If we could have had some of the institutional support that was promised early on, I think we could have done better.”

“It was too little too late,” she added.

Freeman also pointed to the low voter turnout and the hurricane.

“I wish it had ended up differently, but it didn’t,” she said.

Former Cape City Councilmember Rana Erbrick, who resigned her District 5 seat to run for mayor, came in at fifth place with 1,674 votes or 11.28 percent. She did not immediately return a message Tuesday seeking comment on the election results.

Sixth place was taken by Daniel James Sheppard III with 1,265 votes or 8.53 percent.

“It was kind of shocking,” he said Tuesday of the loss. “It was a very hard one to guess with so many people involved.”

Sheppard also noted the voter turnout number.

“That was disappointing,” he said. “I wish a lot more people voted.”

However, Sheppard did not regret running for the seat.

“It was a great experience. I got to meet a lot more people,” he said. “I’m going to continue to do my part in the city as I’ve always done and hopefully support the candidates moving forward.”

As for the candidates he ran against, Sheppard offered up his respect.

“The citizens should realize for those people to put themselves out there, they should be respected,” he said.

Coming in at last place – seventh – was Kevin Koch with 753 votes or 5.07 percent. He did not immediately return a message Tuesday seeking comment on the election results.

All election results are unofficial until certified.

All municipal candidate races are nonpartisan races.