Rotary Happenings: Despite hurricane prep, Mayor Kevin Ruane makes meeting
Wasn’t sure we were going to have a speaker this past Friday morning at Rotary. Hurricane news was saturating the airwaves and the community was buzzing with ideas about how to prepare for Hurricane Dorian, if she headed this way. The City of Sanibel had already gone into hurricane preparedness mode, but like the rest of us, just waiting to see the impending path of the storm. To add to our speaker uncertainty, Sanibel-Captiva Rotary’s speaker for the morning was Sanibel Mayor, Kevin Ruane. Would he be able to make it, or would he be called into a City readiness natural disaster meeting? The storm path was not yet determined by mother nature. Luck was on our side though and Kevin was able to make our 7 a.m. Rotary meeting.
After Kevin was introduced to the club, like the mayor of Sanibel wasn’t known by all of us, Kevin remarked that it was because of his own experiences during Hurricane Charley in 2004 that he realized the importance of this Island to himself and his family. He was not, yet, a full-time Sanibel resident but was spending some time here and got an up close and personal look at the operational side of our City Government during Hurricane Charley because he was bunkered down at the Bell Tower Holiday Inn, Fort Myers. Bell Tower was the official City of Sanibel command post during Hurricane Charley and the cooperation and teamwork done by our Government Officials, Police Department, and City Department Heads was amazing. If a problem on Sanibel existed because of the hurricane, that problem was solved. The Sanibel community pulled together, the constant meetings and communication efforts addressing informational needs to all were ongoing constantly and the safety of those still on the Island was of great concern.
That’s when Kevin and his family felt that Sanibel would become their permanent home and felt they wanted to be part of this very special community. Immediately after Hurricane Charley hit, Ruane became a member of the Hurricane Damage Assessment Team in Sanibel. He, also, found a new job, as Project Manager at Gulfside Place Condominium overseeing and restoring 84 damaged units from the Hurricane.
Ruane was appointed to the Sanibel City Council to fill an interim vacant seat in February 2007. And later that year in May 2007, was elected for a permanent position on Sanibel City Council. The rest is Sanibel history. Keven Ruane has served on the Sanibel City Council, ever since, and is currently serving his 10th consecutive term as Mayor and now serves as the President of the Florida League of Mayors.
The Sanibel City Council holds as its current goals: Improvement of water quality, sustaining and strengthening financial stability, and continue city redevelopment plans. City council members duties include becoming liaisons with other city departments, regional, and state community government agencies. In those positions Sanibel is well represented on investigative, planning, and implementation of actions that benefit our community.
Mayor Ruane is an extremely active mayor. He is an influential partner with government agencies, individuals and organizations that are working toward environmental improvements in the state, particularly water quality issues. His state organizational credentials are too numerous to mention, and he has always showed leadership qualities in his position as Mayor of Sanibel by representing Sanibel and Southwest Florida in an educated and informative way on all issues involving our community.
During his time in office, Ruane and the City of Sanibel has strengthened the community. Taxes have been cut 24% in the last 12 years and an increase of city reserves have risen from $2 million to $9 million while cutting the city’s debt by nearly 74%.
Water quality is of utmost importance for the City of Sanibel. Kevin has attended many meetings with our state legislators and the governor on this issue. More than $680 million from the $91 billion budget approved recently by the Florida legislature will go towards the environment, like fighting red tide and toxic algae blooms. A quote from Governor DeSantis, “Florida has got a lot of skin in the game. We’re putting up big money.” DeSantis also called on the federal government to do its part. The late Lee County Commissioner, Larry Kiker, then Fort Myers Beach Mayor Alan Mandel and Mayor Kevin Ruane flew to Washington, D.C. to bring national attention to the water releases from Lake O and the destructive effect these releases have on the water quality and the health of the surrounding environment in Southwest Florida. Kevin did mention that the United States Senate is the blocking point for much of the legislative delay on environmental issues. Although Ruane did say, that our Florida State Senator, Rubio was working toward improving this situation, we need many more Senators to take this situation seriously and improve the quality of water here in the State of Florida.
Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets Friday mornings at 7 a.m. for breakfast and meeting directly following at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, Sanibel. Guests are always welcomed.
For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are welcome to attend.