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City Council candidate question of the week: Face coverings

By Staff | Jul 9, 2020

Each week through the primary, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. This week’s question is: What action within its authority should Council take, if any, right now in light of the pandemic and the number of local cases? What is the

reason for your position?

District 2

Bryan DeLaHunt

Council needs to have a firm understanding of what authority it has under home rule from the city attorney to make and enforce health mandates on city residents. This protects the city from lawsuit liabilities and allows informed decisions. I would suggest instead of mandating stricter rules than those allowed by Governor DeSantis’ Reopen Florida plan, that the city focus on using multiple platforms to educate the city residents on the best practices to prevent spread of COVID-19. I am an Army veteran and believe individuals should have the right to make their own decisions regarding personal risk.

Todd Maurer

We have just come through a tough debate on this issue. I believe the government should educate the public with facts and ask for everyone to do their part. Next the Council should work with local business to ask them to ask people to wear masks indoors. My hesitation with an ordinance is around enforcement. If you cannot enforce a rule, don’t pass the rule in the first place. I would rather see our Police Department hand out masks than tickets to people that aren’t wearing them. Please use social distancing and good hand washing. We are in this together!

Dan Sheppard

To report only the factual information provided to us by the CDC via the website and providing links for citizens to access on the Cape Coral City website. Educate citizens to communicate with health care provider(s) and follow their recommendations. If citizens are concerned they need to do what they feel is best for their protection. Education is key! I don’t support local government making these decisions for you and your family.


District 3

Chris Cammarota

Council has made the citizens aware of the pandemic. Public safety has been their number one topic. With more than 40 million American’s tested, we will spike in positive cases. With this week’s agonizing vote, council did not pass the mask ordinance. With the virus changing daily, council must be prepared with up-to-the-minute information and data. Council avoided being adrift in a sea of “legal repercussions.” They encouraged all citizens to follow social distancing, wear a mask and be safe. Individual liberties took the day.

Tom Hayden

Although council voted not to make masks mandatory in public places, I would have voted to require them. It is within the council’s authority under home rule to enact such an ordinance — but only for the short term until we see pandemic numbers subside. The number of people testing positive for the virus continues to climb at a record pace in Florida. Our ICUs at hospitals are nearing capacity. There is enough scientific evidence and expert opinions to indicate masks help curb the spread. The requirement is one step. Continuing to educate the public on the importance of masks, social distancing and staying away from large gatherings will be the main drivers to preventing another economic shutdown and helping us return to normal.

Joseph Kilraine

“Monday morning quarterback” serves no purpose. My focus is on effectiveness going forward utilizing reasoned analysis, facts & current conditions.

Leaving data analysis to the professionals, recent positivity increases are red flags. So are Lee Health’s predictions of running out of ICU beds & potential staff shortages.

Everyone has some level of shut-in anxiety. But let’s not lose sight of the end game: a return to as near normal life as possible.

Until antibody therapies & vaccines are developed, constant hand washing, social distancing & wearing masks are key. Yes, masks help limit “transmission from” active & asymptomatic wearers.

Educate, inform, lead by example. Compassionate responsibility protects our most vulnerable.

Edward Nichols

I think the Council made the right decision by not mandating the use of masks in public. At this time the Council should take no further action until there is any significant change. I believe each individual should be responsible for their own health and safety and follow the CDC guideline.


District 5

Louis C. Navarra

The Council should encourage the use of face masks AND social distancing. I am not in favor of a mandatory rule. We should all lead by example and practice these two important rules. Let’s have a “wear your mask day.” You drive up to City Hall and get free 10 masks curb side pickup per car. Use money from contingency fund of budget.

Robert Welsh

I don’t think the council should use its authority to mandate anything in light of the pandemic. Businesses have adopted to a new normal the past few months and are within their right to decide who they want to do business with, and the citizens should respect the wishes of the business owners and the CDC guidelines. I feel the city can provide education to anyone who does not know the guidelines, but should not make new laws regarding them.


District 7

Jessica Cosden, Incumbent

Masks reduce the spread of COVID-19 by preventing asymptomatic individuals from infecting others. As a result, cities, counties, and states across the nation are enacting mask mandates. For me to support a citywide mask mandate, it must be enforceable and clearly outline the process for exemptions; Emergency Ordinance 1-20 didn’t, which is why I voted against it. To increase mask usage citywide, I am bringing forward a unique program that gives incentives to Cape Coral businesses who require masks of employees and patrons. The City should also continue to mandate masks in City Hall to protect residents and employees.

Patty L. Cummings

Council should allow the city to reopen fully with caution. CDC is careful to use the term “guidelines” and NOT MANDATE. Why? Some go against US constitutional rights, HEPA act, impractical for protection & in Florida- statutes law FS 876.12-87.16 states no masks to be worn in public listing identification of those committing crimes as a key factor. As a woman with conservative values, I stand behind liberty and constitutional rights. People & Businesses can make their own protocols to wear or not wear masks, freedom of choice. Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion is safe.

Dr. Derrick Donnell

Council should adopt a resolution using some of the language that was presented in ordinance 1-20. My reasoning: whenever one hears the word mandate, regardless of subject matter, it evokes strong emotions. A mandate would undoubtedly place our enforcement officers in a precarious position. A resolution states the position of council without imposing mandates. In addition, council should direct the city manager to launch an aggressive educational campaign that strongly emphasizes the use of hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing. Statistical information such as persons tested, newly reported cases, fatalities and persons that have recovered should also be included.

Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, city-wide elections meaning all registered voters within the city may cast a ballot in each race.