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Incorporation appears assured

From the Breeze archives

By Staff | Sep 18, 2020

(The following article was published in the Cape Coral Breeze on Thursday, Aug. 20, 1970.)

Precedent appeared to have been shattered Tuesday at Cape Coral, with 2067 registered voters voting for incorporation and 1798 voting against the issue. A total of 404 absentee ballots remained to be counted, but it appeared unlikely that they would sway the final outcome.

The margin of victory was close in heavy voting with all but two of the seven Cape Coral precincts favoring incorporation. Precinct 54 (Four Freedoms Park) was against incorporation 223 to 218 and Precinct 56 (Country Club) showed 251 against and 232 for. All of the partial outlying precincts went solidly against the issue. Precinct 24 voted 19-0 against incorporation.

Barring a dramatic reversal in the absentee ballots, Cape Coral is the first Southwest Florida community in the past several years to vote for incorporation. Port Charlotte, Fort Myers Beach, North Fort Myers and the farming community of Immokalee have attempted incorporation. In each instance, the issue was defeated.

Tuesday’s vote, if sustained by the absentee ballots, marked the successful culmination of over 16 months work, first by interested citizens and later by the Committee for Incorporation of Cape Coral, to present the facts to residents of the community. It also culminated an editorial campaign begun in January 1969 by the BREEZE, pointing out the advantages of local government.

It its first issue for 1969, dated Jan. 2, the BREEZE in an editorial predicted that local government would be a strong issue in 1969, stating the paper opposed county charter government as “more of the same,” and advocating incorporation. Later editorials on Jan. 30, Feb. 20, March 6 and April 3, 1969, pointed out the apparent inability of the county government to solve our problems and suggested our own local government as an answer.

On April 22, 1969, as a result of widespread interest in local government versus county charter, the Civic Association held a panel discussion on the issue. Charles M. Blackburn, president of the Cape Coral Bank and a panelist at the meeting, denounced the proposed county charter and suggested incorporation. On May 1, 1969, the BREEZE suggested a committee be appointed to study incorporation and submit its finding to the residents. The committee was formed on Aug. 12 and released its findings and recommendations in the form of a brochure on Nov. 1, 1969. The brochure recommended the incorporation of Cape Coral as a city.

The issue has been hotly contested, but without the divisive acts that have marked incorporation attempts in other communities. A group of citizens, headed by L.B. Field and John Langan, organized the “Taxpayers Opposed to Incorporation” to fight the issue. Primarily they opposed the measure because of a fear of increased taxes and an objection to the large area proposed for incorporation.

The final step in forming the city will be the election of the city council. The county commission must call a primarily election within one month to nominate city councilmen and a general election within the next month to select seven city councilmen.

(The issue of the Cape Coral Breeze on Aug, 27, 1970, reported that when the absentee ballots were counted, an additional 182 approved incorporation and 157 were opposed, with 65 votes disallowed for various reasons. The final incorporation vote tally was 2,249 for and 1,955 against.)

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