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Ruane, Sandelli and Mann prevail in BOCC races

By NATHAN MAYBERG / nmayberg@breezenewspapers.com - | Nov 3, 2020

In an election where more than 80 percent of eligible voters turned out, one newcomer and two incumbents prevailed in the countywide races for the Lee County Board of County Commissioners — Kevin Ruane, Ray Sandelli and Frank Mann.

Newcomer and Sanibel Mayor Ruane effectively captured the District 1 seat by beating Michael Dreikorn in the Republican primary. With only a write-in challenge in the General Election, he earned 97 percent of the electorate (290,726 votes), with Florida Gulf Coast University student Kelsey Hotchkiss receiving 3 percent. Ruane replaces outgoing Commissioner John Manning, who did not seek re-election. The district encompasses Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island and parts of Cape Coral.

Ruane said his focus on the board would be water quality and “utilizing our tax dollars properly.”

Ruane said he would push for more support of state infrastructure projects related to improving water quality. He cited the state’s Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir as one such project and the stormwater treatment component of the C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir as another part of the Everglades restoration plan that was needed.

“Good water quality affects all of our jobs, impacts tourism and real estate values,” Ruane said.

“I’m very concerned about making sure we do all we can to come out of this recession,” he added.

In District 3, Sandelli (R-Bonita Springs) successfully defended his office against challenger Todd Truax (D-Bonita Springs) with 61.63 percent (223,065 votes) of the electorate. Sandelli was appointed to the board by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019 to fill the seat of the late Commissioner Larry Kiker. He previously beat back a Republican primary challenge from Village of Estero Trustee Nick Batos in August. The district covers Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Springs, Estero and part of Fort Myers.

Sandelli could not be reached for comment as of press time.

In District 5, long-time representative Mann (R-Alva) earned 64 percent (233,555 votes) of the electorate to win his fourth straight term and fifth altogether on the commission with a victory over Pastor Juan Gonzalez (D-Lehigh Acres). Mann, who also served for years in the state legislature, handily won a Republican primary in August against Steven “Sonny” Haas. The district includes part of Fort Myers, Alva and Lehigh Acres.

“I’m looking forward to working with a new commission,” Mann said. “I think we’ve got a bright, environmentally-sensitive board that is coming together and I think it bodes well for the future of Lee County.”

Mann said the evening was “tempered a little bit” for him personally as his brother, George T. “Pat” Mann Jr., lost his seat on the Lee County Mosquito Control Board after 26 years to William Burke.

All election results are unofficial until certified.