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. Week one question: With the primary and weeks of campaigning behind you, what issue or issues do you see as the most important in the minds of the voters? How should those topmost resident priorities be addressed?
Peter Brandt (I)
The issues are myriad, from the Chiquita Lock to the North Spreader to the specter of the UEP looming, not to mention the budget and spending. There may be nearly as many different things foremost in the minds of voters as there are voters. What should be foremost to many is whether they want to see the Council continue to provide essential services as efficiently and cost effectively as possible, contain spending to keep taxes and fees as low as possible, and run the City in a businesslike manner with proper management controls or want to hand it over to Council members who espouse tax increases, have unabashedly demonstrated that their "special interest" will be allegiance to the Unions, likely returning to unsustainable spending and tax increases.
John Carioscia Sr.
* City of Cape Coral General Election: Nov. 8
Voter registration book closes Oct. 11
Early voting: Oct. 31 through Nov.5
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.
Complaints about high water bills. More than three years ago Council voted to halt the Utility Expansion Project without discussion of also halting the North Reverse Osmosis plant being built at the time. After more than a year of UEP workshop discussions there is still no plan that has been brought forward to help relieve the burden on the existing ratepayers. We must re-start the UEP where more ratepayers will help share the cost of the City utility infrastructure. Another concern is the lack of jobs. I would establish a committee to assist the Economic Development Office in setting guidelines, policy and encouraging ideas that are outside the "box" such as doing a study to explore the benefits of a moratorium on impact fees for light industrial and manufacturing venues. We must raise our commercial property tax base to provide relief to the residential property owner.
William Deile (I)
With the poor turnout in the Primary, the majority of citizens forfeited their voice to the special interests - in this case the unions who represent the municipal workforce. Unions have a place in our system. That place is to influence the process by representing their members and advancing their cause by its merit. Their place is not to be in control of the process by representing their members and controlling management. When that happens, the system of checks and balances is circumvented, and the proverbial fox takes up residence in the henhouse. If we wish to continue keeping our municipal services at acceptable levels while introducing efficiencies, effective management and control of expenses, it is essential that you preserve your voice by supporting those who look after your interests, not the special interests.
Leonard Nesta Jr.
We are now on the second part of a long road to Nov. 8. I still feel that my stand from the start is sound, Utilities Expansion Project, Infrastructure, and Economic Development. These are the top priorities in the city now. For the second part of your question, how should those topmost resident priorities be addressed? Let me stress that all the residents are equally important, and that all there issues are also equally important to them and to me. My door will always be open to them with respect.
Council behavior is constantly mentioned. While campaigning I have tried to act professionally with respect and dignity - a preview of things to come should I be elected. The UEP is in the minds of both the ratepayers and non-ratepayers. One side is concerned with looming assessments, the other with ever-rising water/sewer rates. The next Council needs to make the decision how best to move the UEP forward, educate all on the plan, timetable and payment options and then stick with the plan. I also heard a lot of concerns about the City's labor relations. We need to find a reasonable solution by working together in good faith and with respect.
Wm. "Scott" Morris
Voters have expressed outrage concerning the Council's handling of the budget. A lack of responsible leadership was exhibited by the majority, which voted to reduce the millage rate by a minuscule amount. They ignored the advice of the City Manager and created a crisis where none existed. This is not the type of leadership voters want which was shown by the recent primary results. Citizens do not want a reduction in public safety or other services. The budget shortfall can be fixed by using reserves, which belong to the citizens.
The most important issue in the mind of the voter's is stabilizing the status of both the police and fire department. I strongly believe that the primary responsibility of council is to ensure the safety of our residents. I will continue to task the city manager to work collaboratively with both departments to resolve this issue immediately. The second issue is the annual increase in water rates to current ratepayers. I will continue to vote for legislation to move the utilities project forward in the most cost effective manner possible with practical financial options made available for affected residents.
The voters have made clear their biggest concern is the economy. Many residents are unemployed or their small business is suffering from the economic downturn. I feel this should be addressed by reforming some of the regulations that are deterrents to new businesses opening in Cape Coral. I also feel we need to make economic development the number one priority with aggressive marketing of what our City has to offer. We also should partner with Lee County in bringing in new economic opportunities.