City Council candidate question of the week
Each week through the primary, 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. The Week Two Question is: How would you have voted, or did you vote, on moving forward with the Utility Expansion Project into Southwest 6&7: FOR or AGAINST? Why?
Mayor - Primary
- DANIEL (DAN) ASHBY
I support the UEP, because it is something that we ultimately are going to have to have to move this city forward. That being said, I more than understand the extreme economic hardship that it will place on many of our citizens. With a build out of nearly 400,000 people, modern utilities as well as safe and sound infrastructure are a must have in order to lead our city towards its brightest days. Being a leader means sometimes having to make difficult decisions in order to benefit everyone involved.
- ALAN (AJ) BOYD
As a candidate for Mayor my job should be to bring this City together and after living here 27 years this issue has done just the opposite and has divided our GREAT City. Unfortunately City water and sewer is a necessary evil. The most important factor is that the City makes sure that they do everything in their power to keep costs as LOW as possible. Let's also remember that economic development and jobs are the number one issue in Cape Coral and companies like Hertz and other large corporations can't build on well and septic.
- DAVID P. CARR
The UEP is being forced upon the people of Cape Coral for it is a revenue stream for the City. In the old mining towns, the mine owners by use of bosses (council), the company store, and police enslaved their workers. This is how I see the UEP and past projects that many residents still owe on, even though their property value is not worth the amount of the assessment they still owe.
America is about freedom which land owners in these areas do not have with this project.
I support the UEP, it is the financing terms at over 6% I have issues with.
- VINCENT A. CUMMINGS
I would have voted to move ahead with the Utility Expansion Project. Allowing it to press forward is necessary for the growth and life of our community. Adding rate payers lowers the operational costs of the system. An expanded base shares that cost, alleviates the burden on current customers, and raises the value of properties connected to the system. Land owners in Southwest 6 & 7 will experience a higher and better quality of life by connecting to central water and sewer. We should want nothing less for our neighbors who we also view as family."
- MARNI LIN SAWICKI
I support the UEP. A solid infrastructure is needed in order to have a healthy, strong community and to entice business development. Moving forward with the UEP will allow the Cape to grow by providing residents with a safe and reliable source of water along with distributing existing RO plant costs among a larger base of ratepayers, therefore, bringing down the costs. Interest rates and project costs are currently at an all time low. Timing will never be right for everyone, but it is fiscally responsible to take advantage of the current rates. Hardship programs are available for those that need assistance.
- JOHN J. SULLIVAN (incumbent)
I voted against going forward with SW-6/SW-7 because I believe that moving forward with this project will have devastating economic effects on the residents involved. The unemployment rate is too high to be moving forward with this program. Also many of our residents are under employed. Many people in Cape Coral cannot put food on the table and will not be able to deal with in increase in living expenses of approximately $320.00 per month.
The real estate prices will not support the assessment/capital expansion fees. The rate payers will have to pick up the cost of the pipes in the ground for the lots given back to the city which will ultimately cause a utility rate increase.
District 1 - PRIMARY
- JAMES (JIM) BURCH
Abstained from voting in 2008/2009, the firm that I previously worked for had performed pre-design survey. I am free to vote in future phases. I led a committee, per Council's request, to negotiate cost and exit strategy for MWH. That led to 4 million dollar reduction in fees and exit strategy that would have completed 6/7 and transitioned MWH out. The project was halted and the agreement was not pursued by future Councils (This remains the best option we have had but is no longer possible). Hardship and other programs exist for those that can't afford to pay. The burden for utilities cannot continue to rest on existing ratepayers and the City must continue to add utilities based upon population density levels and commercial growth.
- STEVEN L. GOLUB
The Utility Project should have NEVER continued, in fact it NEVER should have started. The Kessler report of 2007 investigated and gave it a scathing review. Putting that aside common sense and consideration would tell the Council that people can not clothe and feed their kids in this economy. Families get to go further in debit for the privilege of adding $150 to their monthly budget. When will the Council realize that the Cape is not an entity that can be kneaded and shoved? Families are the Cape.
- DAVID R. HEADD
Resumption of the utilities expansion GOOD or BAD
I don't think anybody disagrees about the eventual reality of sewer and water expansion. The burning question is, when is the appropriate time? We have to look at two areas when considering this question. One is the economic climate and the second is the mechanics of the system. The start-up of UEP 6 & 7 is ill timed. While our economy has improved, it is still fragile and additional levies will pose an undue hardship on the area on top of the tax increases at the city and county level. An unimproved lot, valued at $5,000 will be asked to pay $2400 per year (estimated) for the first five years and & $1,200 for the balance of the assessment period. Costs accrued by defaulting property owners will fall back on the citizens.
- GRAHAM MADISON MORRIS
I think the manner in which the UEP has been handled in the past has done well to prove what effects indecisive leadership levies on citizens and has contributed to some of the busted confidence characteristic of previous councils. Because of burdensome State concurrency laws and out of necessary consideration for those who have been termed "rate payers" I would have probably voted for the resolution; HOWEVER, I would vehemently insist the specifics of the "hardship program" to be highly developed before the final votes are cast to ensure that the program is comprehensive, adequate, lenient, and realistic.
District 4 - GENERAL ELECTION
- CHRIS N. CHULAKES-LEETZ (incumbent)
Answer not provided.
- RICHARD LEON
I would have voted in favor because of the facts. First the costs are as affordable as they are going to get for new construction. Second interest rates for those who will be financing the project long term are the lowest the citizens of Cape Coral have ever seen. Next there is a deduction of cost for those who are able to afford it up front. Also there is a hardship program in place for those who qualify and are not able to pay the utilities. Finally when I speak with residents in SW 6 and 7, the majority I speak with are asking for the UEP to restart.
District 6 - GENERAL ELECTION
- KEVIN M. McGRAIL (incumbent)
- I voted to restart the UEP expansion in SW 6&7. I did so because I believe our Council and staff had responded to every issue against moving forward that had been raised since the 2009 stoppage. COST, the $16,761 price/10,000sqft ERU is at a multi-year low. FINANCING. the 2% rate is the lowest ever for a utility project in Cape Coral. OVERSIGHT, we hired an in-house Utilities Director who works for the citizens and is under the direction of the City manager. Project auditing is ongoing and under the City auditor. LOCAL JOBS, 7 contracts were issued. 6 of the 7 went to SWFL companies; 2 were awarded to Guymann Construction of Cape Coral. Recognizing there is no perfect time to do a utility project, this is still the BEST time to move this forward, this UEP restart will meet state concurrency requirements, allow for the expansion of new businesses and jobs and will prevent any rate increases for the next 10 years.
- RICHARD (RICK) WILLIAMS
A young, thriving city experiences many growing pains including the installation of its utilities which are vital to continued growth and prosperity. Large companies that bring jobs and tax relief to our residents expect utilities in place. State concurrency laws limit development based on lack of sewers and water.
A pristine environment needs sewers as our population increases. Our shallow aquifers are being dangerously stressed as more wells are added. Our current rate-payers need more users tied to the system to help spread the cost.
I would vote YES-and will support the UEP as build-out justifies construction at the lowest possible cost.
* 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
Primary Election: Sept. 10
Voter Registration Book
closes: Aug. 12
Early voting Aug. 31, Sept. 3-7
* City of Cape Coral
General Election: Nov. 5
Voter Registration Book
closes: 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.