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Voters force out incumbents

By Staff | Nov 4, 2009

YUNET HOLMES John Sullivan celebrates his victory Tuesday night in winning the Cape Coral mayor’s seat in the general election.

John Sullivan easily defeated incumbent Jim Burch in the general election Tuesday to become the next mayor of Cape Coral.

Sullivan garnered 63 percent of the votes, with 10,898 ballots cast in his favor. Burch received 6,373, totaling just under 37 percent.

Sullivan’s victory caps a fiery campaign season for the city, and possibly one of the more tumultuous years in the city’s history.

Sullivan said his victory is a mandate from the people of Cape Coral, one that he will honor beginning his very first day in office.

He said he plans to start pushing the city in the right direction by bringing businesses back to Cape Coral, cutting spending and re-evaluating how to proceed with the utilities expansion project.

YUNET HOLMES Cape Coral Mayor Jim Burch speaks with his supporters after the closing of the polls at Cape Harbour on Tuesday. Burch lost the general election to John Sullivan.

Sullivan also plans on taking a long, hard look at positions within the city.

“We’re going to make some serious changes in this administration,” he said.

Sullivan said the city has to “play defense” over the next few years, while it weathers the recession and tries to pull itself out of debt.

He said the city does not need to take on projects it does not need, and needs to clear up unnecessary red tape to keep and attract business.

“But it’s not just up to me,” Sullivan said. “It’s up to the whole city council.”

Burch said he is disappointed by the election results, but he is pleased he ran a clean campaign.

Looking back over the two years he served as a council member and mayor, Burch cited the Avatar land deal and cutting back city spending during this year’s budget cycle as some of the accomplishments of which he is the most proud.

“Most people have no idea what we accomplished … it was the toughest two years this city and the country has had to face,” he said. “This council has accomplished a lot.”

At the Cape Coral library on Tuesday afternoon, where precincts 143 and 103 cast their ballots, voters seemed disappointed with the current city council.

Glen Thompson, a 35-year Cape resident, said an overall feeling about the council brought him to the polls.

“It wasn’t a single issue, but I’m not happy with the incumbents,” he said. “The city has gone in a direction I’m not happy with.”

Lee Paulmer, a 13-year Cape resident, was disappointed in the voter turnout – ultimately, only 18 percent of voters in the Cape and Fort Myers cast ballots – but his focus was squarely on council chambers.

“We need to get those special interests out of council,” he said.