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Candidate Hobnob attracts full house

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jul 19, 2022

It was a packed house during the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce Candidate Hobnob at Gulf Coast Village Monday attracted a full house. CHUCK BALLARO

Voters interested candidates from the local, county, state and national races flocked to the Candidate Hobnob hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral Monday at Gulf Coast Village.

The first since 2018 due to the pandemic, the mix-and-mingle started in 2008 as a way for people to interact one-on-one with candidates, said Chamber President Donna Germain

“During election season we see a lot of forums where they would do a lot of speeches and canned information, so this gives people a chance to speak one on one,” Germain said. “It’s about the community coming together and getting to know the candidates and working the crowd.”

Candidates for Cape Coral City Council, the School Board of Lee County, The Lee County Board of County Commissioners, State House and more came to share their platforms and to give a 30-second speech about themselves.

The voters also got to participate in a straw poll to get a rough idea on which candidates came in as favorites, at least for now.

The crowd not only included candidates and their supporters and voters but also other office holders interested in the mix.

“There were candidates on the school board and others I have not had a chance to meet, so I thought it was great to hear from the candidates themselves, see them in person, shake their hands and I’m interested in seeing the straw poll results,” said Cape Coral Councilmember Robert Welsh, whose seat is not up until 2024.

Residents like Grace Giliberti were looking to determine who the best candidates are, but it was difficult because she didn’t know much about them and the 30-second stump speech was just an overview.

“I don’t know a lot of these people and a lot of them you don’t know their positions. I’m going to have to look online,” Giliberti said. “It’s kind of hard.”

Russ Winstead spent a lot of time chatting with candidates and had formulated his thoughts on many of the candidates he would vote for.

“It was very well attended, probably the best we’ve ever had. I spoke to some candidates I was familiar with and some who were new,” Winstead said. “I’m looking at how the city is prepared for business and the types of jobs we have for the community. I’d like to see a candidate target specific industries and companies within them.”

Deanna Potter came from Fort Myers, so while she wasn’t interested in the races for city council or mayor, she was interested in those for school board, judge, and the county commission.

“It’s a great forum to get to know a little about each of the candidates. I’m new to Fort Myers, so this was important to me,” Potter said. “I’m familiar with some of the school board candidates as well as some of the high jinks that’s been going on. It was important to get to know the quality of candidates there.”