Election 2020: Slate of candidates rounded out after qualifying period
Candidates for the upcoming Cape Coral City Council election will have their voices heard on topics and concerns pertaining to the largest city in Lee County in which they hope to serve.
On June 24, at 6:30 p.m. via Facebook Live, residents will be able to see candidates speak about issues pertaining to city government and beyond. The forum, which will be held at the Southwest Florida Military Museum, is closed to the public due to concerns about COVID-19.
The event is being organized by former council candidate and Cape resident, John Karcher, and will be moderated by County Commission candidate Michael Dreikorn, and local Realtor Jay LaGace.
All 12 candidates are slated to participate.
“It’s very important for residents to know who they’re voting for,” Karcher said.
The moderators will pull questions randomly from a bucket. They have complied roughly 40 questions from groups around the city and will be taking questions on Facebook Live.
Some questions will be “yes” or “no” answers to help save time. For questions that will require the candidate to delve into their answer, each will have one minute to present their position.
“We’re going to ask questions that are not softball questions — that are good questions,” Karcher said. “If it has to do with city government, we have obtained questions that address everything, and there can be some abstract questions that may come up.”
Karcher said he was discouraged with the 18 percent voter turnout last election, which was a reason for his initiative to provide this forum for the community.
“All I see on social media is people complaining,” he said. “Get out from behind your keyboards and take some action — vote.”
Karcher expects the forum to run approximately two hours.
Districts in which an election will be held this year include; District 2, 3, 5 and 7. Current District 7 council member, Jessica Cosden, is the only incumbent running in the four district elections.
Cape Council races are non-partisan. Candidates must live in the District they represent but are elected by voters citywide — registered votes may vote in each race regardless or where they live or party affiliation.
The Primary Election is Aug. 18, with the General Election Nov. 3. Early voting for the August primary takes place from Aug. 8-15, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at designated polling sites.
For those concerned about joining large crowds on polling days can submit a request for a mail-in ballot. Vote-by-mail ballot requests must be received by 5 p.m. on the Saturday 10 days prior to the election. Visit www.lee.vote to submit your request.
* Candidates for District 2 include:
— Bryan DeLaHunt, 51
DeLaHunt is an Army veteran and registered nurse at the Department of Children and Families Adult Protection Unit. He has a bachelor of Science Nursing and an Associates of Applied Science in Nursing. In nurse management, he was responsible for more than 100 employees and a budget of up to $18 million. He has been a District 2 resident for seven years. This is his first time seeking any elected office. He is married to wife, Beth. They have five adult children.
— Todd Maurer, 46
Maurer is in market sales/operations manager for the Comcast Corporation. He also has marketing leadership experience at AT&T, where he led a team of 300-plus employees. Mauer has experience in project management and budgeting experience, as well as strategic planning and execution. This is his first time seeking any elected office. He is part of the United Way Allocations Committee, the Lee County School Board Finance Advisory Committee and a girls softball coach. He is married to wife Jamie, and has two daughters. He has been a resident in his district for 15 years.
— Dan Sheppard
Sheppard has been a Cape Coral resident for 22 years and is the owner of Sheppard Landscape as well as Palm Source Pine Island, LLC, a wholesale palm tree farm with locations in Pine Island that provides palms to landscape companies throughout Florida, Texas, the Bahamas and up and down the East Coast. He started his own business in 1984 as an architectural millwork designer and manufacturer in New Jersey. Over time, that company developed to where he manufactured for casinos, hospitals and large retail chains. His work can be seen at the Cape Coral Post Office today. He has 35 years of business and budget contract experience.
He is married to wife, Cathleen, with six children.
* Candidates for District 3 include:
— Tom Hayden, 63
Hayden served as the Cape Coral editor of The News-Press for 11 years and spent 23 years there total, also writing editorials. He is currently a member of the Budget Review Committee for the city of Cape Coral. He serves on the boards of the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum and the Quality of Life Center. He also is actively involved as a volunteer for Valerie’s House and works with Rotary on various projects. He has lived in the Cape for 24 years, being a resident of his district for four. Hayden has no political experience. He is married to wife, Joanne, and has two daughters.
— Joseph Kilraine, 69
Kilraine has been involved in the running and building of businesses, primarily in global chemicals, oil and gas, for 45-plus years. He also has decades of entrepreneurial small business endeavors. He has a BS in Chemical Engineering and MS in Chemical and Polymer Engineering. He has built plant complexes hundreds of millions of dollars in scope and has held executive positions in global businesses. He has lived in his district for 15 years. This is the first office he has sought. He is a lifetime NRA member, a member of Rotary, Habitat for Humanity, Harry Chapin Food Bank, Cape Coral Caring Center and more. He is married to wife, Pat, and has four daughters.
— Chris Cammarota, 59
Cammarota is a U.S. Navy veteran and 29-year Cape Coral resident, having lived in his district for the last 27. He is a CDL-B driver and owner/operator of “Juke Box Hero,” a music and entertainment business in Cape Coral for the last 24 years. He has worked on national campaigns in support of many politicians, including Donald Trump. He is involved in the community through many organizations, including Meals on Wheels, United Way, Best Buddies, AmVets and many more. He is married to wife, Josephine, and has two children. He also served on board the USS Nimitz.
— Edward Nichols, 43
Nichols is a Respiratory Therapist at Cape Coral Hospital. He holds an A.A.S. is Respiratory Therapy. His supervisory experience includes the oversight of medical staff assignments throughout the Cape Coral Hospital. This is his first time running for an elected office. Nichols is married to wife, Amy, and has a daughter.
* Candidates for District 5 include:
— Robert Welsh, 35
Welsh, a 30-year Cape Coral resident is seeking his first political office. He currently is an owner/operator at both Arthur Printing and Roots Salon in Cape Coral.
— Louis Navarra, 75
Navarra is a retired School District of Lee County educator of 38 years. He is a 31-year resident of his district and holds a BA in Education and a MS in Education Leadership. As a former barber, Navarra has experience running his own business. Navarra is a U.S. Army Veteran of the Vietnam era who was honorably discharged. He has not held a political office. Navarra is a widowers and father to his son.
* Candidates for District 7 include:
— Jessica Cosden (incumbent), 36
Cosden is a life-long resident of Cape Coral and has lived in her district for seven years. She currently holds the seat of District 7 council member (since 2015) and is a Volunteer Coordinator at the Pace Center for Girls. Prior to her elected position, she worked in direct marketing, managing accounts for Fortune 500 companies. She also served two years on the Cape Coral Charter School Authority Governing Board. She is the current City Council Office manager and is a member of countless Cape organizations such at the Cape Coral Transportation Advisory Committee, Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization, Florida League of Cities, Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Program Board. She is the Chair for the Lee County MPO Local Coordinating Board for Transportation Disadvantaged. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and is married to husband, Dan, and has three children.
— Derrick Donnell, 56
Donnell, a former District 7 council member, is once again running for the seat. He is a 25-year resident of the district and holds a doctorate in education. He is an educator for the School District of Lee County and is an adjunct professor at Florida SouthWestern State College. He is a Gulf War veteran and was a Commissioned Officer of the U.S. Marine Corps. Donnell is a member of the Lee County Human Services Council, part of the citizens advisory committee as the District 4 appointee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization and a basketball referee. He is married to wife, Sherri, with two daughters.
— Patty Cummings
Cummings is a six-year Cape resident and fitness educator/personal trainer. She is the CEO of Astro-Durane, P2 Personal Training and Patty’s Enterprises. Cummings is a strong supporter of the U.S. Armed Forces and developed a non-profit program for veterans titled, “G-Force Fitness for Veterans and Guardians.” Cummings has four children.
There also are a number of county, state and federal seats up in 2020.
According the Lee Supervisor of Elections website, those listed as qualified include:
U.S. House of Representatives D-19:
Darren Aquino, Casey Askar, Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle, William Figlesthaler, Randy Henderson, Daniel Kowal, Christy McLaughlin and Dan Severson are all competing in the Republican primary to replace Frances Rooney, who is not running for another term.
Cyndi Lyn Banyai and David Holden are running as Democrats.
Patrick Post as a write-in.
U.S. House of Representatives D-17:
Republican incumbent Greg Stuebe, Democrat Allen Ellison and unaffiliated Theodore Murray.
State House in District 76: Republicans Jason Maughan and Adam Botana will primary, with the winner facing Democrat Anselm Weber.
District 77, covering Cape Coral: Bryan Blackwell and Mike Giallombardo will primary for the GOP slot, with the winner facing Democrat Joshua Lopez.
District 78: Roger Lolly, Charlie Lynch and Jenna Persons (active) will primary on the Republican side, with the winner facing Democrat Shawn Michael Williams.
District 79, including Lehigh Acres and North Fort Myers: Incumbent Republican Spencer Roach will primary with active candidate Randy Allen-Scott, with the winner facing Democrat Danika Fornear.
State Senate District 27: Republican Ray Rodrigues primary against Heather Fitzenhagen, with the winner taking on Democrat Rachel Brown.
County Commission District 1: Michael Dreikhorn and Kevin Ruane, both Republicans. Also qualified is a write-in candidate, Kelsey Hotchkiss.
County Commission District 3: Nicholas Batos, Ray Sandelli (incumbent), Republicans, and Todd James Truax, a Democrat. Also qualified is a write-in candidate, Molly Hannigan.
County Commission District 5: Juan Gonzalez, Democrat, and Steven Haas and Frank Mann (incumbent) both Republicans. Also qualified is a write-in candidate, Kayley McHugh.
There are four School Board seats up. The races are non-partisan.
In School Board District 2, candidates include Emory Cavin and Jeff McCullers, Charla Strange Fox and Melisa Giovannelli, (incumbent).
District 3: candidates include Brian Digrazio, Chris Patricca, (incumbent,) and Jacqueline Perez.
District 7, at large: candidates include Pete Bohatch, Cathleen Morgan, (incumbent,) and Curt Sheard.
School board races are non-partisan; voters vote in the district in which they reside.
Lee County Sheriff: Republicans Carmine Marceno, (incumbent) and James Leavens; Cafrmen McKinney and Coach Ray, no party affiliation, and Democrat Robert Neeld.
Property Appraiser: Matt Caldwell and Matt Miller, both Republicans. Also qualified is a write-in candidate, Elaina Cosentino.
A primary is held if there are more than two candidates running for a seat. If there are just two candidates in a district, they go straight to the General Election in November. If there is only one candidate, he/she automatically gets elected.
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Editor’s Note:?Biographical information cited has been provided by the candidates. More complete bios for each candidate may also be found here online.