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Cape eyes timing of its elections

By Staff | Nov 15, 2018

The city of Cape Coral is considering a change to its election schedule.

Voter turnout in recent years for the Cape’s off-year municipal elections has been 16 to 18 percent, far below turnout in even years.

On Monday, during the Cape Coral City Council’s regular meeting at City Hall, an ordinance will be introduced that would change city elections back to even-numbered years to coincide with county, state and federal races.

Elections would be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even numbered years beginning in November 2020 for Districts 2, 3, 5, and 7.

Primary Elections shall be held on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in the month of September.

Beginning in November 2022 would be elections for Districts 1, 4, and 6, and the mayor.

City Councilmember John Carioscia said moving the local election would result in cost savings and triple the turnout. He pointed out that most people polled by The Breeze via its online poll said they would like to see the election returned to even-numbered years.

“It also won’t cost us any extra money as it has been. It costs between $80,000 and $250,000, depending on who you talk to,” Carioscia said. “Bringing more voters out is so important.”

Carioscia said Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle is onboard, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the city can do it as has Arcadia.

It will just take an ordinance.

The ordinance provides for a one-time extension of terms of the current council members and Mayor to accommodate the change as terms of office cannot be shortened, only extended.

If passed, council members would get an extra year added to their terms, to five years.

When a previous supervisor of elections forced municipalities off the crowded even year ballots, a similar extension took place.

Carioscia said it’s a blessing or a curse, depending on who you ask. He said two years ago he probably would have questioned it, but not anymore.

“This council achieves a lot and has little of the drama. That’s a positive thing,” Carioscia said. “I would like to see Seven Islands come to fruition and something done with Bimini Basin.”

The public hearing is set to be held Dec. 3, but Carioscia said he would like the vote to be put off until January, since Doyle and City Councilmember Marilyn Stout will be out of town.

“We need time to get it right and properly vet it and be able to answer the questions the public may have,” Carioscia said. “Tommy and Marilyn need to be here for such an important issue.”

In other business, the city council will vote to certify the results of the General Obligation Bond referendum it has on the General Election from Nov. 6.

There will also be a second and final hearing on the proposed, city initiated future land-use amendment for more then 1,580 acres of land in the city.

The purpose of the amendment is to reflect Comprehensive Plan changes. Several land use classifications are proposed to be eliminated, and replaced with new ones.

The case was transmitted to the state and regional agencies in September.

City Council will also appoint a chair and vice chair to the Community Redevelopment Agency and fill one vacancy for the Audit Committee and three for the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.

Cape Coal City Council meetings begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.