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Cape chamber to host two virtual candidate forums

By CJ HADDAD - | Jul 30, 2020

Cape Coral residents will have another chance to hear from those seeking city or county office this year.

The Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral will host two virtual candidate forums on Aug. 4 and 5, where those running for Cape Coral City Council and Lee County Commission seats will have the chance to speak to the community via Facebook Live.

“We feel that one of the most important things you can do is educate yourself on each and every candidate and take advantage of every opportunity to do so,” said Chamber President/CEO Donna Germain. “Each forum hosted throughout our community will touch on different topics, so we always encourage the voters to attend as many as possible.”

City Council candidates will take to the virtual platform Aug. 4 from 6-8 p.m. and County Commission on Aug. 5 from 6-7:30 p.m.

Candidates will be divided by district and will answer questions in a 20-minute block of time.

Joe Mazurkiewicz will moderate and ask each candidate four to five questions per race.

“Most will be similar, but he may throw a different one at each district,” Germain said.

Each candidate will have 1-2 minutes per questions, including rebuttal.

The presence of COVID-19 has resulted in the Chamber taking alternative options than prior years.

“Traditionally we host our Candidates Hobnob prior to the Primary Election. However, due to the restrictions of the pandemic and the safety of our residents and candidates, we felt it would be best to host a virtual forum and revisit the possibility of the Candidates Hobnob for a later date before the General Election,” Germain said. “We are very excited to host this for the community and hope you will all join us on Facebook Live for both events.”

The Primary Election, which will feature three of the four Cape Coral City Council races up for grabs as well as all three Lee County Commission seats is Aug. 18.

City Council races are non-partisan and council members are elected citywide meaning Cape voters may cast a ballot in each race regardless of party or the district in which they live. The top two voter-getters will advance to the Nov. 3 General Election ballot.

The countywide county commission races each offer Republican primaries with the winner in each advancing to the November ballot where the seat for City Council District 5, which only has two candidates, will also appear.

According to Germain, confirmed as of Friday morning for the City Council forum on Aug. 4 are Bryan DeLaHunt (District 2), Todd Maurer (District 2), Chris Cammarota (District 3), Tom Hayden (District 3), Joseph Kilraine (District 3), Robert Welsh (District 5), Jessica Cosden (District 7, incumbent), Patty L. Cummings (District 7) and Derrick Donnell (District 7).

Confirmed for the Aug. 5 County Commission forum include Michael Dreikorn (District 1), Kevin Ruane (District 1), Nicholas Batos (District 3), Todd Truax (District 3), Juan Gonzalez (District 5) and Frank Mann (District. 5).

“We are still reaching out and hoping to get confirmation from the remaining candidates and would love to have 100% participation for both events,” Germain said.

Those interested can visit www.facebook.com/ChamberofCommerceofCapeCoral to RSVP to each virtual candidate forum.

The forums are sponsored by Williamson & Sons Marine Contractors, LCEC and Lai Design Associates.

–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj