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Election 2017 Question of the Week: weighing public input and handling criticism

August 25, 2017
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

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. As you review the races, please note that Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide elections. This means all registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.

The seventh Question of the Week is: Cape residents are not shy in voicing their opinions. a) How will you weigh public input on controversial issues? b) How do you deal with criticism that may be unfair or even just plain ugly?

MAYOR'S RACE:

- Joe Coviello: Public input is an important aspect of our local government. Everyone involved in the political process has the right to express their concerns and should abide by the Pledge of Civility. This is printed on the top of every City Council Agenda. Criticism is a part of being an elected official. If the criticism is presented in a professional and constructive manner I welcome that input. Personal attacks and name calling only damages the image of Cape Coral. I have the correct demeanor and positive attitude to lead the city forward.

* * *

- Derrick Donnell: Every citizen has the right to be heard. As mayor, I am the voice for all hard-working citizens of our community. Whether the issue is controversial or not, I always listen to each and every concern. I also follow-up if I need more clarification. One of the most important lessons I learned from my time as a council representative is that if and when those negative and/or unfair responses arise, the ugliness is really not about me. Instead, it's primarily due to overwhelming frustration. I have always and will continue to be calm, steady and seek to respectfully offer words of encouragement.

* * *

- Rana Erbrick: Public input is vital to the decision-making process. Controversial issues bring out the passion of those affected, which helps me see viewpoints I may not be grasping. I listen, am respectful and I acknowledge and try to understand their viewpoint. The criticism may get ugly, but you still listen, that's our job. I soul search, and if there is validity to the criticism I try my best to correct the issue. I then take all of that input and do my best to work towards a solution that is best for the whole City.

* * *

- April Freeman: This is a great question because public input is why I love local government. There is no other form of government that allows for this type of community involvement, which is essential for a strong local legislative body.

I always listen to criticism - good, bad and ugly, in hopes that I will learn something. I do feel there is currently a high level of frustration with our citizens, so I would ask anyone giving input to be as respectful to everyone in the room as possible.

* * *

- Michael D. Hollow: The biggest issue our residents have during public input and in general is they feel as if their voices aren't heard. Even though we may disagree with people, we can do it professionally. At times people become angry, while we can't infringe on their rights, we can also set the tone and expectations.

There is a difference between social media criticism and in person. However, we need to understand why the criticism is happening. Is it simply miscommunication. However, we can never use rational thinking with someone being irrational.

* * *

- Kevin Koch: a) Public input is one of the most important aspects of our political system. Yet, it has not been utilized as much in our city as it should have been. My belief is that we need more actual input of citizens through referendums during elections. Our citizens should have the ability to vote on various issues and not just have the mayor and 7 council members dictate Cape Coral's path forward.

b) I welcome criticism of all kinds as long as it is respectful and pertains to the issue at hand. Personal insults distract from the various issues our city faces.

* * *

- Daniel James Sheppard III: Always start with good news. Respect and listen to all citizens. Transparency and education are powerful tools. Keeping in mind there wants their needs. Ultimately do what is best for the city now. Be open to change as the community needs to change. Remain calm and respectful. Every citizen is entitled to their opinion. Showing the citizens that I care about their thoughts even though they may be different. Remain open to constructive criticism from the community. Try to prevent ugly comments by showing the people I value their opinions and won't ever devalue their statements. Encourage working as a community building good relationships.

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DISTRICT 1

- Jim Burch (Incumbent): Mr. Burch has withdrawn from the race; he is no longer running.

* * *

- James Frederick Foraker: A councilman has to listen to the citizens. Both sides of every issue must be thoroughly investigated and evaluated. Criticism comes with the job. As a councilman you have to make the best decision for whats best for the city. By being fair, honest and sincere with everything you do the public will understand that the decision was based on the facts and done for the betterment of the city weather you agree with the decision or not.

* * *

- John Gunter: I feel that community input is essential in making a good definitive decision on any issue.

Our citizens have a right to voice their opinion, and our leaders have an obligation to listen. We have established guidelines for community input, and that input must be respectfully given. Our leaders must listen to all sides of an issue, and obtain all available information prior to making a decision. As leaders, we may not always agree with one's opinion, but as a citizen of our community, they have earned the right to be heard. I will always ensure that our citizens be given the opportunity to express their concerns.

* * *

- Graham Madison Morris: Part "a" - What I have learned by experience in weighing public input is the most important thing to do is simply LISTEN. Not listening is the best way great ideas are missed and most often how mistakes are allowed to occur. Part "b" - I would not be running if I did not know that this is part of the job and that I can handle it well by always being patient, understanding, tolerant, and fair. I insist on setting egos aside for public business and focusing on the matter in front of us, in order to not ever let these kinds of interactions carry us away from the very real issues we are confronting.

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DISTRICT 4

- Jeffrey Alan Jones: First, stay away from complex language as there are several phrases and words which involve technical reports, percentages. Also, avoid acronyms in communications. Keeping it simple and the use of analogies and simple graphics when explaining issues will have a positive effect. Have any information in which you are about to explain accessible, including online information. If an issue is presented from a cape resident and you are not sure or simply do not know, express that to the individual and you will need further time to research for an answer. For criticism; face to face engagement is essential. Get the right people involved, listen to people's views, concerns, and be open. A friendly face makes a difference.

* * *

- Richard Leon (Incumbent): Winston Churchill said, "Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." Accepting criticism, no matter the opinion allows us to grow as leaders, as human beings. Listening to people also gives me an opportunity to view an issue from another's point of view. Helps me see prospective from a greater viewpoint and at times, allows me to change a previous position I held.

* * *

- Jennifer I. Nelson: As a leader, you must practice active listening which is a valuable skill in any conflict resolution. It requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. You can never control what others say, you can only control your reaction and your response. Public input is absolutely necessary in making our city thrive. We have a pledge of civility in place that as leaders we need to follow to set the example and raise the bar. You teach people to how to treat you and respect goes both ways. I have made a career out of resolving conflict and look forward to utilizing this skill set for our city.

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DISTRICT 5 (General Election ballot only)

- James Schneider: I encourage public input from our local residents regarding controversial issues, and have posted issues on my campaign page with questions, to initiate dialogue. One of my platforms is to be the Council member with easy access to all residents, through sponsored "lunch and learns," where they can speak with me about city business.

What I find to be ridiculous is the personal attacks from friends of opponents. The names I have been called in memes and in comment replies are childish. Attack me for my qualifications or issues. When one compares the candidates' qualifications, versus their political alliances, you will find me appropriately qualified.

* * *

- Dave Stokes: Elected officials work for the public. Elected officials should always listen to all sides of an issue and value all public input when deciding on controversial issues. I would listen to the person giving the possibly unfair/ugly criticism and try to understand their point of view first. I would then try to respond in a positive manner that addresses the issue in a thoughtful manner and work together on a resolution.

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DISTRICT 6 (General Election ballot only)

- John Karcher: Most people do speak with dignity and respect at public hearings and that's the best way to get your point across. A Councilmember should never fear public input but embrace it. A thorough debate of issues where all sides are heard gets you to the best solution for all.

Social media allows weak people to speak untruths and belittle others without consequences. You must understand there's a difference between hate speak and criticism. I don't waste my time responding to hate messages but criticism is always worthy of reflection. Fair or unfair, it's a mirror to judge your effectiveness.

* * *

- Rick Williams (Incumbent): I consider my votes very seriously. I was elected to be the citizen's voice, so public input on all issues is paramount to me. I meet with a lot of people individually, ask questions, do research, visit sites, and weigh the opinion of our professional staff. I study the financial impact to the city, whether or not we can afford a project and how it gets paid for. I look at both short-term and long-term benefits and try to anticipate unintended consequences. Then I vote for what I think is best for the city long-term. I embrace fair, constructive criticism and open dialog, but won't engage with ugliness that has no place in council chambers.

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Important dates

PRIMARY, Sept. 12, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Voter Registration Book Closes - Closed Aug. 14

* Early Voting (primary election) -Sept 5-9;

- Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3

- Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace

- GENERAL, Nov. 7, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Voter Registration Book Closes, Oct. 10

* Early Voting (general election), Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 1-4

- Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3

- Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace

- 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 Unit 3 A full list is available at www.leeelections.com.

 
 
 

 

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