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New Cape Council members gear up for work ahead

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Nov 19, 2020

It’s hard to forecast what’s going to happen in the next four years, and that’s especially so if you are a city council member in Cape Coral.

So much has changed in the last 50 years that to those who have lived here for that long, the city has become much more than initially envisioned.

For the newest members of the elected board, they have an idea of what they would like to see as the city continues toward buildout. Many of them have been issues that have needed to be resolved for years, while others are things promised on the campaign trail.

Tom Hayden, representing District 3, said right now he is just getting acclimated. He expects things to become clearer in the new year after the council returns from a retreat where they can lay out their visions for the future.

“The next four years are really important in setting up the future for the next 50 years for the city. We’re going to look at growth and environmental preservation and how we can help our businesses, not only existing businesses but finding new ways to attract medical and high-tech business,” Hayden said.

Most important, Hayden said, is to pay attention to what the residents want, whom he plans to speak with continually.

“We need to make sure they are heard. That’s the No. 1 thing that’s important,” Hayden said.

Robert Welsh, District 5, said it’s hard to tell what will happen that far into the future, but he wants to see the city continue to grow and make a dent in big projects ready undertaken such as the UEP, Seven Islands and Bimini Basin.

“I want to see the city finish the projects it started. I only have four years, so while the city might want to make big changes, I want to see them finish what we started.”

For Dan Sheppard, District 2, it’s about seeing continued growth that will help bring more high-paying jobs and business to the city.

“I hope the economy continues to improve so we can take advantage of that and build out the city properly. My goal is to implement anything that raises the financial demographic of the city because it will have an impact on all the residents,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard also wants to fulfill a campaign promise to bring in more health care to a city which is fast approaching 200,000 people.

“Our current hospital doesn’t have the right amount of beds for the population we have. I think we have to look at that before it becomes a concern,” Sheppard said. “We need to either expand the existing hospital or maybe add another one.”

Jessica Cosden, who kicked off her second term in District 7 on Monday, said she would like to see how the city manages its growth and water quality in the next four years.

“Even through COVID we’ve been growing rapidly and that will be a big issue to deal with,” Cosden said. “I think water quality is another issue to deal with, not just in the next four years.”