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Mayors conference targets Everglades funding, other issues

By Staff | Jul 3, 2019

Much was accomplished at this year’s Conference of Mayors, according to Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello, one of the attendees from across the county.

Coviello, along with more than 200 other city leaders, met in Honolulu for the 87th annual event, which concluded Monday.

Coviello returned home Tuesday with a wealth of knowledge he said he obtained from the seminars he visited and the other mayors with which he spoke.

Among the accomplishments was conference support for South Florida for the dedicated funding of $200 million toward the Everglades Restoration Project.

Coviello said this resolution, for funding now earmarked, should give that request a little more clout.

“It gives us more clout for requesting the money that was promised to us in the year 2000 when the project was approved,” Coviello said. “This resolution will make sure we get the dedicated funding.”

The funding would not only improve water quality in the Everglades, but also Southwest Florida and Cape Coral. Coviello hopes the resolution helps state and federal representatives get the annual allocated funding.

Also attending were Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson and Bonita Springs Mayor Peter Simmons, each of whom kept the other Lee County mayors updated on events.

Mayors participated in panel discussions, workshops and meetings on issues that concern their particular cities, such as water and air quality, global warming, gun safety, immigration, affordable housing, attracting business into cities and more.

As several presentations happened simultaneously, the mayors could choose which among them best fit their city’s needs. Coviello also compared notes with other mayors and networked with them, learning how they handle certain situations.

He said he spoke with Marty Walsh, mayor of Boston, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Sly James of Kansas City, among others.

Coviello said he also learned about grants the city can apply for after hearing about them at the conference.

“We’re seeing where grants are available and what we’re eligible to apply for,” Coviello said. “That would more than offset the cost of the trip because I’m sure next year we’ll get some grants based on what we’re finding out here.”

Coviello said he spoke with national vendors, seeking out innovative ideas and technology for things cities need such as infrastructure, Cape Coral’s UEP projects, and even solar streetlights.

“I get introduced to these vendors that give us a chance to learn what they offer and how they would not only help our city, but help it save money,” Coviello said. “If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t know about these things.”

The mayors also heard from Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy; Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence; David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting in 2018; baseball great Shane Victorino, and presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

This is the seventh consecutive year that a Cape Coral mayor has attended the annual conference.

It is the first time Honolulu has hosted since 1967.