Among the many things District 77 candidates Chris Berardi and Dane Eagle have in common are their profession, they are Republicans, and they both want to serve Cape Coral in Tallahassee as state representatives.
But only one of them can win the Aug. 14 primary for the right to face Democrat Arvella Clare in the Nov. 6 election in a newly redistricted area that now almost exclusively covers Cape Coral.
There are some differences. One is a former Cape Coral city councilman, while the other worked as a deputy chief of staff for former Gov. Charlie Crist. One has managed big and small businesses in the Cape, while the other gained a foothold in state politics almost out of college before returning to help keep his family built business afloat after the real estate meltdown.
But they both believe they have what's necessary to get the job done.
* Chris Berardi
Residence: Cape Coral
Berardi has been on the local political scene since shortly after he moved to Cape Coral in 2000. He is a former city councilman, taking over for Mickey Rosado in 2007, and ran for the Board of County Commissioners.
Berardi said that when Gary Aubuchon's state seat opened when Aubuchon decided he would run for U.S. Congress, he jumped at the chance.
"When I saw who stepped up to run, I saw nobody who had the business sense or conservative values that was needed for Cape Coral," Berardi said.
Berardi said he will run on three key issues; Small businesses, property insurance and education.
"We need to reduce regulations and lower the business tax rates to bring in jobs," Berardi said. "We have to deal with property insurance because it's killing residents and with educating our children so we have a better future for Florida."
Berardi said he would bring a record of results to Tallahassee from a business, political and community sense.
"I've been a district manager for a Fortune 100 Company with 400 employees under me. I helped reduce the budget for the first time in decades as a councilman," Berardi said. "I've been here and invested in the community. That's important when you go to Tallahassee. I've been in the trenches."
* Dane Eagle
Residence: Cape Coral
Eagle was born and raised in Cape Coral, but made a name for himself in Tallahassee by becoming the youngest deputy chief of staff in Florida history when he performed that job for former Gov. Charlie Crist at age 24.
But when the economy went south, so did Eagle, returning home to help keep the family's real estate business afloat.
"My parents taught me to work hard. I built myself up when I got to Tallahassee and made a good impression," Eagle said. "I'm ready with the experience I've built and the passion I have for Cape Coral."
Eagle will preach the three "E's" if he is elected: Economy, education and ethics, with the latter being most important.
"There are some in Tallahassee who forgot who they serve. It was disheartening," Eagle said. "I'll listen and work for our citizens, not lobbyists."
Eagle said his Cape Coral roots and experience at the state level gives him an edge in spite of his age.
"I was born and raised here. I worked locally, running a business. I went to Tallahassee and worked in one of the highest positions in the state by 24," Eagle said. "If elected, I will be able to start work on Day 1, give 110 percent, and do it for the right reasons."