homepage logo

Cape Council to fill District 5 seat

By Staff | Oct 17, 2019

Cape Coral City Council is expected to fill its vacancy Monday.

Council will hear from applicants for the District 5 seat vacated by Dave Stokes, who resigned last month.

There are 11 candidates looking to fill the position, and they have taken part in one-on-one interviews this week with members of the elected board with a handful of such sessions still slated for Monday.

“I think by the time 4:30 rolls around on Monday, all the candidates who want to be interviewed will have been interviewed,” Mayor Joe Coviello said Thursday.

At Monday’s regular Council meeting, candidates each will be invited to give a five-minute presentation on why they should be appointed to the seat, with council asking questions if members so choose. Council then will make its decision, with the appointee being sworn in immediately at the end of the meeting.

The city charter states the appointment by city council must be made within 30 days of the time of resignation. Otherwise, a 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 presentations are under new business meaning, barring any changes, the swearing in would be the last thing to happen that evening. It was schedule this way so the new council member wouldn’t have to make any major decisions right away, as the next meeting, Oct. 28, is a workshop and so a non-voting meeting.

“If you’re going to appoint someone to that seat, it’s probably a good idea that the first meeting is a non-voting meeting. It will give them a chance to sit through a meeting, have discussion on whatever the topic is on COW (Committee of the Whole) and move forward from there,” Coviello said. “That person can slide in and get up to speed.”

The applicants are:

* Jerry Michael Price, a retired automotive consultant;

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

* Jay Saxena, former public works manager for the city from 2004-11;

* 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.

“I’m excited we have some good candidates who would do a good job. It’s funny that someone asked me the other day about government experience,” Coviello said. “I looked down the dais on both sides and few of us had any government experience before we were elected.”

Whoever gets the job will hold it for about a year, when the seat comes up again for reelection in November 2020.

It is the second time since 2017 that seat has been vacated. Rana Erbrick resigned from the seat that summer to run for mayor. Puleio filled the seat for the remaining seven weeks of that term before Stokes was elected.

Council meetings begin at 4 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.