Election 2022: Meet the candidates for Cape Coral City Council
Breeze Question of the Week
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.
The Breeze is introducing the weekly feature, which will run through the General Election, with a “Meet the candidates.”
The 2022 municipal election for Cape Coral City Council features four races — the seats for mayor and Districts 1, 4 and 6. While candidates must live in the district they seek to represent, Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide races, meaning every registered Cape voter, no matter their party affiliation or city address, may cast a ballot in every race. Races with more than two qualifying candidates are placed on the primary ballot. The two primary candidates receiving the most votes shall then be the candidates in the City General Election. If there are fewer than three qualifying candidates in any a given race, their names will not appear on the primary election ballot. They will appear on the City General Election ballot.
Primary Elections races: Cape Coral City Council Districts 1 & 4
• Dr. Carol Rae Culliton
Occupation and place of employment: President/Founder Brotherhood of Heroes CEO, President and Founder Gunterberg Charitable Foundation
Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency: District 1 for 2.5-3 years
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking.
Political Experience/offices held: None
Civic/Community involvement: Civic/Community involvement: I’ve been involved for 12 years impacting Cape Coral by supporting several non-profit organizations as well as other community projects in Lee County. Cape Coral Animal Shelter, Cape Coral Art League, Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Museum of History, Cardiac Rehab Center of Cape Coral Hospital, Lee Health internal medicine residency clinic, Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce, Cultural Park Theater, Junior Leadership of Cape Coral, Various scholarships,Guardian Angels for Special Populations, Gulf Coast Symphony, Holiday for Heroes, Hope Hospice, Leading Latina, Lee County Sheriff Community outreach center, Merchant Marine Monument, Midwest Food Bank, Oasis Charter Schools Stem Program, Pace Center for girls, Purple Heart Monument, Relocation of the Vietnam Wall, Sheriff Youth Activity League, Taste of the Cape, Holiday festival of lights, The Community Foundation, United Way School Resource center to name a few.
Family: Spouse Richard Metzger, son Adam Culliton, grandson Charles Culliton
Military Experience: None personally but many family members were in the service
• Jean Pierre Etcheverry Jr
Education/degrees: Pursuing a Doctorate in Education with a concentration in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University; Barry University/ Master of Public Administration; Florida SouthWestern State College/ Public Safety Administration (B.A.S.); St. Petersburg College/ Associates in Fire Science Technology; Edison College/ Associates in Emergency Medical Services Technology
Occupation and place of employment: Firefighter at Alva Fire Control and Rescue – full-time employee; Firefighter at Upper Captiva Fire Department – part-time employee; Adjunct Professor at Florida Southwestern State College – part-time employee; EMT at Lee County Emergency Medical Services – on-call employee
Business experience: I have over 20 years of business experience. I worked for the Chicago Public School System for two years as a school assistant. I worked in the private sector for a multi-million-dollar lumber yard in Miami, as a shipping and receiving manager and a purchasing manager with over 70 employees. I have been a first responder/ public servant for 13 years (10 of those 13 years with the City of Cape Coral). Additionally, I have worked at Florida Southwestern State College for seven years as a Clinical Associate for the Paramedic and EMT program as well as a Fire Science Adjunct professor.
Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency: I have lived in the City of Cape Coral’s District 1 for two years.
Civic/Community involvement: As an educator and a public servant, I enjoyed teaching First Aid, CPR, and AED courses to the community and to youth programs such as the Cape Coral Police Explorers. Additionally, I have volunteered in previous City of Cape Coral campaigns.
Family: I was born in Hartford, Connecticut. My father is Basque and was born in Biarritz, France. My mother is Cuban and was born in Havana, Cuba. So, my background is as easy as ABC (i.e., American, Basque, and Cuban). Married to Evelyn Saenz with a daughter, Amaya Etcheverry
Military Experience: Not applicable
• Bill Steinke
Education/degrees:College for Financial Planning, Certified Financial Planner; Real Estate Negotiation Institute, Certified Negotiation Expert
Occupation and place of employment: Director – Sales and Business Development, Aubuchon Homes, Inc. & Realtor, Miloff Aubuchon Realty Group, Inc.
Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency: In District 1, 1998-2004 (six years) & 2017-present (five years) total 11 years in District 1. (Was in District 5 2007-2015 and District 3 2015-2017 and first rented in District 7 1977!)
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking.
Restaurant and Small Business Management 1977-1985
Certified Financial Planner and Field Vice President for American Express Financial Advisors 1985-2000
Business Creation, Development and Transfer 2000-2012 (Fort Myers Beach/ Cape Coral)
Real Estate Sales and Organizational Development 2011-present (Southwest Florida)
Political Experience/offices held:
No Political, although:
2022 President – Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association (almost 10,000 Members)
2022 Chairman – Participation Sub-Committee, Florida Realtor Political Action Committee (approximately 81,000 Members)
2020 Vice President – Florida Realtors District 5 (approximately 18,000 Members)
2017 President – Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association (approximately 8,000 Members)
2013 – present – Board of Directors, Florida Realtors (hiatus 2018)
Civic/Community involvement: 2009-2018 Volunteer Officer, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, 2004-2009 Youth Athletics (Soccer), Annual Helping Hands for The Holidays (Ronald McDonald House, Make a Wish, Builders Care), Habitat for Humanity, Realtors Care (formerly the Housing Foundation), Fallen Heroes
Family: Engaged; four sons, nine grandchildren
Military Experience: None personally, Fourth son serving Fort Jackson, SC, Grandfather (raised me) – WWII, Uncle – Korea
• Ally Wharton
Education/degrees: Bachelor of Science in Marketing Husson University, Masters of Business Administration Husson University
Occupation and place of employment: Senior Director of HR Operations, CloudFit Software LLC
Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency: Two
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking: As Senior Director of Operations, I oversee Total Compensation which includes, compensation, benefits, and budget. I am skilled at creating compensation plans, I negotiate with insurance companies on the daily for 200+ person medical, vision, dental, 401k and business insurance policies. I currently manage a team of nine and serve on the Executive Leadership Team. At my former job with Microsoft AI & Research, I co-managed a 20+ million-dollar budget.
Family: Cape Coral is where my family has decided to put our roots down, I purchased our first home here in 2020. We are proud small business owners, avid boaters and love Cape Coral for the water lifestyle. Our children are future Cape Coral public school attendees.
• Joshua B. Clark
Education/degrees: College for accounting. Did not finish degree.
Occupation and place of employment: Owner of Cape Coral Tile Co. LLC
Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency: Three months in district. Over seven years as a Cape Coral resident.
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking: Four years as accountant, 20 years as a small business owner with as many as 12 employees.
Civic/Community involvement: Cape Coral soccer coach, Assisting den leader with the Cub Scouts
Family: 10 years with girlfriend and two children, a 20-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son.
Military Experience: 4 years active in the Navy, 4 years inactive reserves Navy
• Patty Cummings
Occupation and place of employment: Business owner — Astro-Durance, Astro-Durance Bungee Studio and Astro-Durance Bungee Studios
Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency: Eight years in Cape Coral
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking: Entrepreneur, Franchisor, Inventor, Business of the year award recipient 2013, Product of the year award 2018, Developed Certification program for a new category in fitness (Bungee Fitness) that I created in 2017, Created a step by step curriculum on “How to open a business?,” Developed a business mentoring program, Helped Hundreds of businesses open up in the nation, Author
Civic/Community involvement:Chamber Of Commerce, networking with small business to small business.
Family: One daughter, three sons and two granddaughters
Military Experience: none
• Jennifer I. Nelson, incumbent
Education/degrees: University of Texas at Austin, BFA
Occupation/place of employment: Business/Non Profit Consultant
Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency: Lived in Cape Coral since 2008, 14 years. Purchased home in District 4 in 2014, eight years in the district.
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking: Managed budgets up to $900,000,000. Accomplished career in non profit executive roles. Duties include supervision of teams up to 250 people, large-scale project management, fund raising, expense savings through 6-S efficiency models, and innovative ways to generate revenue.Government relations and community development. Logistics, transportation, and operations.
Political Experience/offices held: Cape Coral City Council Member, District 4
Civic/Community involvement: PACE Center for Girls Lee County Board Member 2012-present, SWFL Resiliency Compact 2021-present, Cape Coral Charter School Governing Board Member 2017-2019, Horizon Council, Executive Board 2017-present, Recycle Florida Today, Board chairman ex officious 2012-2017, Lee County Sustainability Committee, 2012-2016
Family: Daughter, Piper age 17
Military Experience: None
General Election Ballot:
• John Gunter, incumbent
Education/degrees: Studied Criminal Justice
Occupation/place of employment: President – Gulf Coast Premier Homes, Inc.
Years of residency: Lived in Cape Coral: Since 2007
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking: In addition to private-sector/business experience, membership and leadership roles on various leagues, committee and boards includes: Florida League of Mayors, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Florida League of Cities, Southwest Florida League of Cities, Transportation Advisory Committee and Metropolitan Planning Organization. Also served at Council liaison to the city’s Charter Review Commission, Community Redevelopment Agency, Budget Review Committee and Planning & Zoning Commission.
Political Experience/offices held: Appointed Mayor January 2021; Elected District 1 Councilmember 2017; Cape Coral Mayor Pro Tem November 2020 – January 2021; Council Office Manager 2021.
Civic/community involvement: Member – Rotary Club of Cape Coral
Family: Married to Teresa. Five children and six grandchildren.
• Tom Shadrach
Education/degrees: John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University Master of Finance, Southeast Missouri State University Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Majors in Marketing & Finance
Occupation and place of employment: Retired from The Boeing Co., St. Louis, MO in 2017 after 37 years. Current owner of Rachman Industries based in Cape Coral. Dock Master at Freedom Boat Club, Cape Harbour, Cape Coral
Years of residency: Four years
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking: I led teams up to 500 employees, handling government contracts up to $1.5 billion. Cape Coral’s budget is around $1 billion. Among my projects was the F-15 Eagle aircraft contract with US government, where I helped secure a deal with the US Air Force. Responsible for the P-8 Poseidon program, it included airmen from the USA, India, UK, Australia, and Finland. We used simulators to train pilots and equip aircrew to identify and destroy enemy submarines. I traveled to the United Kingdom 13 times in one year to bring air traffic control simulation and training to military during the war in Afghanistan. Skilled in Program Management, Procurement, Contracts & Pricing and Negotiations. I currently serve on the Cape Coral Citizen Budget Review Committee which fueled my decision to run for Mayor.
Political Experience/offices held: None, first-time candidate
Civic/Community involvement: 25-year member of the Knights of Columbus; Member of BUPAC, Eagles, Coral Oaks Men’s Golf
Family: Married for 11 years to my second wife Michele and have a blended family, including two daughters, a son, a step-daughter, two step-sons and seven grandchildren, all under the age of 9.
Military Experience: None/37 years as a Defense Military Contractor
• Wayne Hecht
Education/degrees: Auction Marketing Institute, CAI, GPPA Designations-1994 (Certified Auctioneer, Certified Personal Property Appraiser); Florida Licensed Real Estate Associate-2002
Occupation and place of employment: Director of Operations, Tiger Capital Group, www.tigergroup.com
Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency: Nine years
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking: Currently as Director of Operations for Tiger Capital Group. I propose and review budgets for the sales of over $1B in assets annually, supervise a direct staff of five+ full time company employees, manage and supervise well over 120 contractors, manage partner relations, and oversee vendor projects.
Political Experience/offices held: Current President Cape Coral Half Century Softball League
Civic/Community involvement: USCG Auxiliary, Captains for Clean Water, CERT, Team Rubicon, Rotary Club, Northwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association, Past Board Member South Florida Bar Grievance Committee, Past Board Member Cape Coral Water Advisory Board
Military Experience: N/A
• Keith Long, incumbent
Education/degrees: Florida Gulf Coast University; B.A. Political Science; University of Miami School of Law – J.D.
Occupation and place of employment: Attorney, Long Law, P.A.
Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency: My wife and I are lifelong residents of Cape Coral. Purchased our current home with our three young children (1, 4 and 5) in District 6 in 2019.
Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking: I believe my training and work experience as an attorney is perfectly suited for the work before me as the current District 6 Council member as it allows me the ability to view the issues through a particular analytical lens that others without extensive experience analyzing comprehensive documents are not able to. I also through my legal practice deal with planning matters before dozens of municipalities throughout the state, which provides a great deal of perspective in the planning process that I can apply to planning matters that come before Council in nearly every meeting.
Political Experience/offices held: Councilmember, District 6 – Cape Coral City Council (Appointment); Member – City of Cape Coral Transportation Advisory Committee; Member – Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization; Member – Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership; Liaison – City of Cape Coral Waterway Advisory Board
Family: Wife of 10 years, Kristi Long; children Harper (5) Evan (4) and Lucas (1)
Military Experience: N/A
• Primary Election: Tuesday, Aug. 23
• Deadline to request that a Vote-by-Mail Ballot to be mailed: 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13
• Early Voting for the Primary: Saturday, Aug. 13, to Saturday, Aug. 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily.
• General Election: Tuesday, Nov. 8
For more information on the 2022 races and candidates:
• The Breeze will post all of its elections stories here at Capecoralbreeze.com.
• The Cape Coral City Clerk’s Office posts all city-election related documents, including campaign reports at capecoral.gov/department/clerk/Candidatereports.php.
• The Lee County Supervisor of Elections has a wealth of elections-related information concerning registration, voting, dates and candidate lists and documents on its website, lee.vote.
• The League of Women Voters, Lee County offers election-related information on its website, my.lwv.org/florida/lee-county, and will host Virtual Candidate Forums before the primary.