Republican John Manning and write-in candidate Gerard David Jr. are as about as different as night and day when it comes to their vision of Lee County. However, both feel they are equipped to handle the problems the county faces. Both want to be the District 1 representative on the Lee County Commission and will square off on Election Day.
Residence: Cape Coral
Gerard David's ideas are as eclectic as his background, having worked as a background actor on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and run twice previously for County Commissioner, losing both times.
Among the ideas he has hatched have been to build a movie studio and entertainment complex in the area with Thomas Edison and Henry Ford featured in the theme, and high-speed rail service from the airport to all points in the vicinity.
"We need jobs for everyone, especially kids so they get off the street. I want to get them involved in entertainment," David said, lamenting the state's "right to work" designation and the difficulty unions have. "I want us to be the entertainment center of Florida next to Orlando. But our vision is shortsighted. We need something to do other than baseball."
Among his other ideas are to build a solar plant like the one built in DeSoto County and to build low-income homes and provide loans to people who lost their homes during the recession.
David said he's the person with the ideas and that the past 20 years have been filled with stupidity in regards to spending.
"Did he get the airport solarized or get one-way tolls on the bridges? I get things done and I'm not even elected," David said. "We can't have the same people. I'm a people person who helps the community."
Residence: Cape Coral
Occupation: County Commissioner
John Manning has been involved in local government on and off since the mid-1980s, when he was a Cape Coral City Councilmember and later a Lee County Commissioner in 1988 when Porter Goss left the board to run for Congress, where he stayed until 2000. He was reappointed in 2010.
Manning said not many people know the workings of Lee County government better.
"I have a deep knowledge of the issues and experience in government that will get Lee County moving again," Manning said. "My education and experience goes a long way."
Manning foresees a Lee County where the budget finally reaches an even keel to where the county doesn't have to tap into reserves to pay for things. He also said for all the talk about the reserves, they were there for a reason.
"Usually, 15 to 25 percent are held in reserves, we had more than that. Reserves are a double-edged sword. In five years it's given us $225 million in tax relief and balanced the budget," Manning said.
Manning, who worked in the private sector when not in government, knows business is what will bring jobs and more money into county coffers.
"We need to make sure policies don't interfere with business recruiting or expansion. They need to be business friendly," Manning said. "I've voluntarily gone back to the private sector, helped build jobs and was successful.