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Time for voters to start our homework

July 11, 2009
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The slate for Cape Coral's city council elections became official Friday.

Fifteen candidates submitted the paperwork and fees for mayor or one of the three council seats up for grabs in the fall. Fourteen qualified.

We thank these candidates. The weeks ahead to the Sept. 15 primary will be long with the road to the Nov. 3 general election even longer for the primary victors and the two candidates per race vying in Districts 1 and District 4.

It's not too early for the rest of us to become involved in the process.

With the economy still tanking, tax increases and service cuts proposed in the city's working budget and the on-again/off-again utility project on again, this promises to be a contentious election year.

With no disrespect to the candidates intended, it's likely we're all going to hear promises a plenty and a tad more than the usual helping of political rhetoric. That's OK because it's up to us, the voting public, to sort through the talk and elect the best qualified people to lead the city through the challenging times ahead.

Here are the names:

Mayor's race:

Incumbent Jim Burch, challengers John Sullivan, Robert Pizzolongo, Roger G. Butler and Stephen J. Lovejoy.

In District 1:

Jim Martin and Kenneth "Marty" McClain. The incumbent, Gloria Tate, who was appointed to the seat to fill a vacancy, is not seeking re-election.

In District 4:

Incumbent Dolores Bertonlini and challenger Chris N. Chulakes-Leetz.

In District 6:

John Cataldi Jr., Kevin McGrail, Frank Antos Jr., Joseph Trunkett and Onil Martinez Jr. The incumbent, Tim Day, cannot run for re-election due to term limits.

Here are the recommendations:

Become informed:

Cape Coral is known for its political forums. The Civic Association, the chamber and various neighborhood organizations sponsor meet-and-greets and Q&As each election year. When it's a municipal election, the city does so as well, televising its debates.

We urge you to attend one of these forums. The questions tend to vary and in virtually all instances are not given to the candidates ahead of time so it's usually easy to judge who is informed, who is prepared, and who may just be focused on an issue or two.

We also urge voters to meet with the candidates individually. All of the forums include this opportunity and many candidates invite voters to contact them directly. Let's take them up on that while we also pick up their campaign literature and visit their Web sites.

Lastly, we invite you to read on-line and in print. The Breeze commits each election year to in-depth coverage of the races and the issues. This year will be no exception and we invite candidate questions from the community. Read, comment - and call; we will keep you informed.

Register to vote - and then vote:

The books for the Sept. 15 primary will close Aug. 17, meaning if you are not registered or are new to the Cape, you will need to file with the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office. The office usually offers the opportunity to register at the larger forums so you can kill two birds with the same stone.

Then get out and cast a ballot in the primary and the general election - both are important and a higher turnout - especially with half the council seats on these ballots - better assures representation that reflects a communitywide mandate.

City elections are non-partisan and, while council candidates must live in their respective district, all seats are elected city-wide. That means everyone can vote in every race on each ballot, both the September primary and the November general election.

Let's make this a record turnout year.

- Breeze editorial



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