Each week through the general election, 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: How would you rate the interaction/relationship between the city of Cape Coral and Lee County? Good? Mostly good? Needs improvement? Poor? Are there issues that need to be resolved and, if so, how would you work to resolve them?
MARNI LIN SAWICKI
The relationship between the City of Cape Coral and Lee County definitely needs improvement. Cape Coral is the largest City in Lee County, yet there appears to be little communication between us.
Solutions begin with leadership. My plan would be to have an assigned City staff person to attend all County Commission meetings and ask our elected representatives from the County to assign someone to attend the City meetings.
We need to cease the duplication and competition of our efforts. Together, through representation and cooperation, we can begin a unified effort for progress.
JOHN J. SULLIVAN (incumbent)
JAMES (JIM) BURCH
The relationship with Lee County has steadily eroded with this Council since 2009. Not surprising because the Council's style in their first two years was 'shoot first and ask questions later.' We lost most of our intellectual brain trust when practically all of our directors, city managers and administration were fired or run off by that Council. It makes having a relationship difficult when you can't even have one with your own staff. All that left have 'landed' in better positions and I have been contacted by many cities, counties and government agencies that have told me that 'our loss was certainly their gain.' The past two years, with a more level headed and efficient Council, we have managed to bridge some of the gap of differences with the County in spite of a couple. We must do more, however, and I have always had a good relationship with Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Glades as well as most of State government right to the Governor's office. It simply takes preparation, respect and the ability to communicate and negotiate which I am known to do.
DAVID R. HEADD
Since Lee County quickly agreed to match financial incentives with the Cape to entice the Hertz Call Center, I would have to rate the relationship as good, to mostly good. I will approach the relationship between the city and the county as I would any business relationship, that is based on the fact, everyone wins when agreement is reached on matters that affect both groups. I would hope that any differences could be set aside in a way that common grounds can be found which should work to the mutual benefit of the city and the county. If both groups work toward a common goal, a synergy will develop and create results that cannot be achieved in any other fashion. It is commonly known as teamwork. It would seem that any other approach would be counterproductive to both the city and the county.
CHRIS N. CHULAKES-LEETZ (incumbent)
The relationship/interaction with Lee County is good. Communication is reasonable, frequent and cordial. I have no difficulties communicating with the County although some County Commissioners could improve their call return policies. Of course there are issues that need to be addressed and resolved: Our tolling agreement has been poorly managed and Cape Coral deserves a far greater portion of the revenue. The widening of Burnt Store Road needs to be accomplished with much more input from Cape Coral provided to the County. These and other issues will be addressed by this Council Member who represents the citizens of Cape Coral, provides intelligent policy decisions and seeks equitable treatment for all Lee County citizens/interests. The news published in the last seventy two hours regarding the State Sun Pass System will significantly affect these issues.
I feel we do not have the best relationship we can have with Lee County. We have had issues such as the North Spreader drive a wedge between us. Fortunately when I have spoken with county officials, they are more than prepared to work with our city in finding the solutions to the issues.
One issue in particular is the Lake Okeechobee releases. With 400+ miles of canals connected to the river, we have witnessed our quality of water diminish not just in the Caloosahatchee but our canal system as well. We have been leaderless in District 4 on this issue. As a representative of the people, I plan to work with the county to ensure the quality of our water is not threatened more than it already has been. This will help grow our relationship and we can work on other areas of concern for Cape Coral residents.
KEVIN M. McGRAIL (incumbent)
I believe our current relationship with the Lee County Government is getting better but still needs improvement. The number one issue I believe needs to be addressed is the excess bridge toll 40/60 split. This has left Cape Coral as a "silent partner" in decisions affecting how and where that money is spent. It also leaves us in a weakened position to decide future toll costs and expenses associated with bridge hardware and software spending. The vast majority of the Cape Coral bridge toll money is coming from Cape Coral residents. We need to continue to push this issue until a new 50/50 partnership is accepted as the only interlocal agreement to best represent our citizen's interests.
I view our relationship with the Lee County as "improving" and with their staff as "good." However, we need more personal collaboration between commissioners and council members. Lee County views us as a suburb of Fort Myers, or, as my opponent has said, "the premier bedroom community." We're so much more! We're 2-1/2 times more populous than Fort Myers. We need to garner more respect and voice in area issues, such as equal apportionment of bridge tolls (currently split 40/60 in favor of the county) and how that money is spent. More should be going to county roads in Cape Coral.
Our city and county leaders need to communicate more often to exchange ideas and find ways to meet common challenges and achieve common goals. I have an excellent relationship with commissioners and other city managers. I would like to lead city efforts toward greater regional collaboration.
Voter registration, early voting
* Voter registration:
Applications are available
online at www.leeelections.com,
at all Lee County libraries, and other locations including Cape Coral City Hall at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce at 2051 Cape Coral Parkway, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and all Lee County Supervisor of Elections offices including the one in the Cape at 1031 S.E. 9th Place,
Suite 3. A full list is available at www.leeelections.com.
* Early voting locations:
- Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office 1031 S.E. 9th Place, Suite 3 (behind the Lee County Government Center).
- Lee County Elections Main Office at the Constitutional Complex in Fort Myers at 2480 Thompson St., third floor.
- City of Cape Coral
General Election: Nov. 5
Voter Registration Book
closed: Oct. 7
Early voting Oct. 28-31, Nov. 1-2.
Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan,citywide elections meaning registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.