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Applicants for vacant council seat up to 11

By Staff | Oct 14, 2019

Applications for the open District 5 Cape Coral City Council seat were due by Friday at 3 p.m. and interest proved strong with just shy of a dozen candidates submitting paperwork for the Council appointment.

After a slow beginning, the applications starting coming in Monday. City Clerk Kimberly Bruns said she had received 11 applications as of the Friday deadline.

The candidates have a wide range of backgrounds and experience. Though most have little to no government experience, there are a handful who have served.

Applicants to fill the vacant post until the 2020 municipal election include business owners, retirees, attorneys, a school teacher and a pastor.

Members of the Cape Coal City Council will now conduct one-on-one interviews with all the candidates.

That will be followed by a five-minute presentation by all the candidates in Council Chambers, explaining why they would be the best person for the job, during the Oct. 21 regular meeting during new business.

After that will be when a decision on former council member David Stokes’ replacement will be made. The candidate selected by a Council majority will be sworn in at the end of the meeting and serve their first meeting the following week, which is a “Committee of the Whole,” or workshop meeting, on Oct. 28.

“It will be a nice way to ease the new person in where they can experience a meeting before they have to cast any votes,” Mayor Joe Coviello said.

The city charter states the appointment by city council has to be made within 30 days of the time of resignation. Otherwise, the special election would have to be held no sooner than 90 days and no later than 120 days, meaning the seat would stay open for the rest of the calendar year.

A special election would cost the city $270,000, Coviello said.

The seat became open when Stokes suddenly resigned Sept. 23. He became the second District 5 council member to resign since 2017, when Rana Erbrick resigned to run for mayor midway through her second term.

Dan Puleio served the remaining seven weeks of her term before Stokes was elected to fill the remainder of Erbrick’s term. Puleio submitted an application Friday for the position.

The applicants are:

* Jerry Michael Price, a retired automotive industry consultant;

* Philip Stalnaker, a pastor who serves with the Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce;

* Jay Saxena, former public works manager for the city from 2004-2011;

* Donna Law, retired, who worked in emergency management in Pennsylvania;

* Lois Welsh, owner of a local printing company;

* Alex Baker, former deputy sheriff and prosecuting attorney in the Detroit area;

* Nevin Reiss, a merchandiser for a marketing firm;

* Martha Hill, an administrative assistant for the 20th Judicial Circuit;

* Tiffany Bucher, a high school teacher at North Fort Myers High School;

* Russell Ringland, a general contractor;

* Dan Puleio, owner of local dry cleaner.

Whoever gets the job will hold the job for about 13 months, when the seat comes up again for election. The position pays a little more than $34,000 a year, plus benefits.

Coviello said he has an idea of who he wants on the dais.

“I’m looking for someone who’s well-rounded and has participated in the community organizations we have. They should have a bachelor’s degree, though it’s not required, someone with business and financial acumen because they’ll have to go through the next budget cycle,” Coviello said, adding that he would also like to see someone interested in running for the position next year and someone who fits in with the current council.