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‘Hob-nob’ with the candidates

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jul 14, 2022

Cape Coral voters who want to meet the candidates in the upcoming election will get an opportunity to do so on Monday.

And for candidates, Monday may be their best opportunity to ask for those votes.

The Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce will hold its popular Candidate Hob-Nob from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on July 18 at Gulf Coast Village.

The event is free and open to the public for those who want to meet and greet candidates on the city, county, state and federal levels.

The Chamber started holding the hob-nob in 2007 to create an event where residents and business owners could speak one on one with candidates rather than listen to speeches.

“We feel it’s so important everyone be an educated voter by attending events like this. The event is designed more like a networking event where more of a connection is made between the voter and candidate,” said Chamber President Donna Germain in an e-mail.

The importance of events like this cannot be overstated, especially for Republicans in a deep red area. For those running in a partisan race, the winner of the primary on Aug. 23 stands a very good chance in the General Election in November.

Terry Miller, a political strategist, said some people don’t know who to vote for and only see candidates on TV or their signs on people’s lawns. This will be their chance to meet them in person.

“This gives the community the opportunity to shake hands, ask the candidates questions and meet candidates for a variety of seats across the political spectrum,” Miller said. “This is a long-standing tradition in Cape Coral for as long as I can remember when I ran for office. It’s a great chance for candidates to meet the public.”

In terms of local races, the hob-nob may be especially important for candidates in two of the Cape Coral City Council races.

In District 1, there are four candidates vying to advance to the General Election for the seat held by Gloria Tate, who is not seeking re-election. Running in District 1 are Dr. Carol Rae Culliton, Jean Pierre Etcheverry Jr., Bill Steinke and Ally Warton

There are three candidates running in the primary in District 4 — Joshua B. Clark, Patty Cummings and incumbent Jennifer I. Nelson.

The races are non-partisan and at-large meaning all Cape Coral voters may cast a ballot regardless of party affiliation or the district in which they live.

The races for mayor and District 6 have just two candidates each and appear on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.

Also promising to be a heated primary is the race for the Lee County Commission seat held by Commissioner Frank Mann. Mann’s recent passing left a vacancy and there are three candidates in the closed Republican primary — former Lee County Commissioner John Albion, Joseph Robert Gambino and former Major Leaguer Mike Greenwell.

The winner of the primary will face Democrat Matthew “Matt” Wood and Angela R. Chenaille, who qualified as a write-in, in November.

Also on the primary ballot is the race for Clerk of the Court and Comptroller with two Cape Coral residents in the closed Republican primary — incumbent Kevin Karnes, who was appointed to the post, and Liza King. The race will be decided in the primary.

The Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office will conduct a straw poll of the candidates as well as conduct voter registration for those who haven’t yet done so.

Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle said it’s very important to vote in any election.

“Primaries are very important for the parties. Here, we do everything we can do get turnout as large as possible,” Doyle said. “We do outreach and get people to register to vote, change their party. It’s very important.”

Mail ballots are set to be distributed next week, first to those overseas, military and civilians, then to local voters.

Early voting for the primary will take place from Aug. 13 through Aug. 20, daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Aug. 23 primary will have polls open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

All ballots, mailed and delivered, must be in by then.

The General Election then will be Nov. 8.

To register for the Hob-Nob, title sponsored by Lamar Advertising, visit capechoralchamber.com.

Gulf Coast Village at 1333 Santa Barbara Blvd.