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City Council incumbent facing two challengers

By CJ HADDAD - | Jul 29, 2022

With the official ballots for the 2022 elections having dropped, The Breeze is giving voters a deeper look into the candidates they will have the opportunity to vote for in the Aug. 23 primary.

The race for Cape Coral City Council District 4 sees three candidates facing off, as incumbent Jennifer Nelson, Joshua Clark and Patty Cummings are in contention.

The Breeze asked all candidates questions to provide insight into their thoughts on policy and how to best serve the residents of Cape Coral.

Jennifer Nelson

Nelson, 52, is the incumbent heading into this year’s election. A Cape Coral resident since 2008, she works as a consultant for nonprofits and businesses and just started her own small business: Purpose Driven Strategies, LLC.

A University of Texas at Austin grad, Nelson has worked in operations and logistics for 24 years with Goodwill Industries around the country.

Other community involvement includes: PACE Center for Girls of Lee County Board of Directors; Recycle Florida Today, Ex Officio Board Chairman; Women in Business Committee – Greater Fort Myers Chamber; Lee County Sustainability Advisory Committee – SWFL Community Foundation; City of Cape Coral Budget Review Committee; and Cape Coral Civic Association member.

When asked what prompted her to run, Nelson replied: “My child was 11 when I decided to run in 2017. She told me she would never return to Cape Coral after college because there was nothing for her generation to do. I realized at that moment that I needed to run to utilize my leadership and business experience to make Cape Coral a place future generations would want to stay and lead.”

When asked what her main focus would be on day one if elected, Nelson said: “I would like to continue negotiations to purchase the old golf course. We need to make sure that the current owner has mitigated all of the ground contamination per FDEP requirements. Once that is completed, I would like the city to negotiate this purchase so that we can continue to provide amenities and much needed green space to our beautiful city.”

When asked why she believes she is the right candidate to take on this role, Nelson said: “My experience and leadership on council and in my career allows me to understand large budgets, revenue growth and expense savings. My communication skills allow me to communicate up, down, sideways and in circles. We are focused on our future vision and I want to finish what I started.”

When asked what she believes is the greatest threat to the future flourishing of the city of Cape Coral, and how she would work to eliminate that threat, Nelson said: “Infrastructure is crucial to the fast-growing rate of our city. If we do not prioritize and grow incrementally, our city could suffer. By focusing on our priorities and knowing when to pivot those as our needs change, will be crucial in our growth moving forward. I will continue to support our issues that not only affect the city but our entire Southwest Florida region such as attainable housing and resiliency.”

When asked what she thinks is the key to a successful city moving forward, and how she would bring that to fruition, Nelson stated: “Happy residents and visitors are the key to our success. Making our city a place where people want to live, work and play would be the best indication. Keeping our taxes low, our public safety strong and never losing sight of our water quality as a key economic driver in our city will continue to make Cape Coral a sustainable, desirable place for future generations to enjoy.”

Nelson added, “I am incredibly proud of the work I have accomplished the last nearly 5 years and the experience I’ve gained serving on Cape Coral City Council. I look forward to continuing to serve our city and continue to develop our future potential.”

For more information on Nelson and her campaign, visit www.jenn4capecoral.com.

Joshua Clark

Clark, 48, is the owner of Cape Coral Tile Co. LLC and a Navy veteran. He has been a Cape Coral resident for the last seven years and a resident of the district for three months. He spent four years as an accountant, and 20 years as a small business owner. Clark is a Cape Coral soccer coach and assistant den leader with Cub Scouts.

When asked what prompted him to run, Clark replied: “For the past couple years I have talked with other City Council members about the city’s issues and what will be done about them. While building my own house here in the Cape, I have realized some of the ordinances do not make sense. I have been working with city officials to rewrite some of the city’s current ordinances. As a Navy veteran I have learned the importance of serving my community. And my career in accounting will play an important role in keeping our city fiscally responsible. For the past 20 years I have run my own small construction business with as much efficiency as possible. This is what I want to bring to the city.”

When asked what his main focus would be on day one if elected, Clark said: “To eliminate or amend the ordinances that do not make sense in our city such as parking personal trailers, boats and trucks with ladder racks in our own driveways. I feel this cost our hard-working families and small business owners income that is already being lost with inflation. I would work with county and state officials to expand infrastructure for more commercial business and to restructure roadways to accommodate the rapid growth of our city. I would look to create indoor community facilities. A city the size of Cape Coral should have multiple community centers. We need this for our community and especially our youth.”

When asked why he believes he is the right candidate to take on this role, Clark said: “After serving in the Navy and owning my own business for 20 years, all I know is to work hard. I wish for all people in our city to have a good quality of life. I work very well with others and want to use this skill to work with city, county and state officials to better our city.”

When asked what he believes is the greatest threat to the future flourishing of the city of Cape Coral, and how he would work to eliminate that threat, Clark said: “There are so many threats to our city. Clean water, taking care of our teachers and first responders, taking care of our veterans and wasteful spending are just a few. I think our greatest threat is infrastructure. We need a larger commercial base to regulate taxes. Residents should not have to bear the entire burden. Our roadways are crowded and are only going to get worse. And as I mentioned before, we need multiple community centers. I will work hard with city, county and state officials to get this done.”

When asked what he thinks is the key to a successful city moving forward, and how he would bring that to fruition, Clark stated: “I believe the key to a successful city is to expand infrastructure and cut wasteful spending, but most important is to provide a good quality of life for our residents. I will listen and provide support to all our residents that have issues with our city. “

Clark added, “I am a hard working, blue-collar candidate — not a politician. I will not make decisions based on endorsements or re-election. I will only make decisions for what is right. I decided to work only part-time at my own business in order to spend more time with my family and serve my community. Win or lose, I will continue to work with the city in order to make Cape Coral a better place.”

For more information on Clark and his campaign, visit voteforjoshclark.com.

Patty Cummings

Cummings is an eight-year resident of Cape Coral and owner of Astro-Durance Bungee Studios. She in an entrepreneur, franchisor and inventor. She has created a step-by-step curriculum on how to open a business and has helped hundreds of businesses open across the country. She is a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral.

When asked what prompted her to run, Cummings replied: “Hearing the same issues that we have been dealing with for years and many projects not moving forward and a population over 210,000 and commercial at 8% which 92% of the tax base is being paid by the citizens.”

When asked what her main focus would be on day one if elected, Cummings said: “To help bring large businesses with higher paying jobs to Cape Coral to take the tax burden off the citizens. To create an easier process ‘turn key operation’ for these businesses to open up and the city needs to get these permits rolling out quicker. The city is taking over 50 days to receive permits. Last year it was five to 12 days to receive permits. This is a problem. I would work together as a team with my other council members to build relationships with organizations and non-profits to show why there is a need here in our community to sustain their businesses and our city.”

When asked why she believes she is the right candidate to take on this role, Cummings said: “As a business owner and resident of Cape Coral, I know the importance of many projects that have been promised for many years to move forward, such as the old golf course, sidewalks, bike trails, swimming complex, safety at the bus stops, Chiquita lock, street lights, water quality, parks and much more. I know it’s important to all the citizens here to sustain quality of life in such a volatile economy. We need to stop the wasteful spending and use our tax dollars wisely. We can get creative by moving many projects forward without raising the tax dollar. My goal in my four-year term is to have most of these projects moving forward and completed.”

When asked what she believes is the greatest threat to the future flourishing of the city of Cape Coral, and how she would work to eliminate that threat, Cummings said: “Lack of leadership in District 4. Voting me in will bring in leadership, teamwork, attending all the meetings, being a vote to move projects forward and bringing innovative ideas to the table and most importantly being at the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization meetings where we have the opportunity to vote on obtaining millions of dollars for projects needed in Cape Coral.

When asked what she thinks is the key to a successful city moving forward, and how she would bring that to fruition, Cummings stated: “Listening to the citizens, understanding their needs, and being transparent and having open communication with the constituents. It’s very important that all the residents in Cape Coral have an opportunity to vote before we create a new ordinance or a project moving forward. So many of our citizens can’t attend the meetings, especially our senior citizens. Their opinions are very important to be part of the meetings. I would have a platform on social media where it will be shared on what we would like to bring forward and everyone has an opportunity to vote yes or no. For example, when we see 70 % no, 30% yes, we need to rethink of moving the ordinance or project forward and re-evaluate our decision and come up with a better solution to make the citizens of Cape Coral happy.”

Cummings added, “I want to build a better future now. Because now is the only time to do it. I invite you to learn more about my visions as our beautiful city of Cape Coral grows, and my strong sense of urgency to find solutions for our great city and even more importantly, my commitment to serve the people who are my No. 1 priority here in Cape Coral. Let’s keep Cape Coral beautiful, safe prosperous, and a family feel.

For more information on Cummings and her campaign, visit www.votepattycummings.com.

— Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj