Election 2022: Candidate Question of the Week – Fielder’s choice
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. This week’s Question of the Week is With Early Voting opening Saturday, please answer the question you wish we had asked. (Candidate chooses his or her own question.)
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 in both the primary and general election.
Races with more than two qualifying candidates are placed on the primary ballot, which this year will be held Aug. 23 with Seats 1 & 4 on the ballot. The two primary candidates receiving the most votes in each race will then be candidates in the City General Election which also will include the District 6 seat and the race for mayor. (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 only.)
Here are this week’s responses:
Primary Elections races: Cape Coral City Council Districts 1 & 4
• Dr. Carol Rae Culliton
Q: What have you done for your community without being prompted of seeking personal gain?
A: After I came to Cape Coral 13 years ago, I began looking to determine what a city of this size was missing. Sometimes is was a small thing, such as repairing the city clock on Cape Coral Parkway. The city had no animal shelter until I helped to fund the Cape Coral Animal Shelter project. Cape Coral Hospital now has a cardiac rehab unit and a recently opened Lee Health Resident’s Clinic. There now is a STEM Program at Oasis Charter School. Veteran’s accomplishments include the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Merchant Marine monuments, the relocation of the Vietnam Wall (all at Eco Park) and the establishing of The Brotherhood of Heroes Resource Center and Museum. Lee County Sheriffs Office now has an “Ande Machine” in its crime lab that has recently helped solve current and “cold” criminal cases. These are just a few examples of my recognizing a problem, stepping up and getting it resolved. There are several quotes that inspire my work. One is “Ask what you can do for your country” (JFK). Another is “What have you done for your fellow man today?” (MLK) So my question is… “What have you done for Cape Coral?”
• Jean Pierre Etcheverry Jr
• Bill Steinke
Q: Other than your desire and concern for Cape Coral, what makes you qualified for City Council?
A: I have been doing this work for most of my adult life. I have served on the Board of Directors for the largest Trade Organization in the Country for nearly 10 years. I was in Senior Leadership for a Financial Advisory subsidiary of a Fortune 50 company, whom I was with for 16 years prior to that. I know what small business is about as well, as I have formed, grown and transitioned several in our area. I am versed in public safety, as I was raised by a career Officer, my sons are all in Public Service and I served nine years as a volunteer with LCSO. My resume has been posted since the beginning, as I have considered this applying for a job and I am proud of my qualifications
• Ally Wharton
Q: What would you be proud to accomplish during your tenure as a City Council member if you are elected?
A: Increasing the quality of life in our city. Making investments towards a better life for all of Cape Coral and measuring the success with metrics collected directly from the People. I believe in asking the experts, and there is no better panel of experts that the Citizens of the city. At the start of my journey to serve Cape Coral I would develop a Quality-of-Life survey and administer it year over year to monitor progress and direction of vision. The goal is that by the end of my term, our population feels heard and has their ideas implemented which leads to enhanced livability for each of us.
• Joshua B. Clark
Q: If elected, what would be some of the issues you would address first?
A: 1. The first issue I would address right away is to hire auditors/forensic accountants to assure that our tax dollars are correctly allocated.
2. 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.
3. 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.
• Patty Cummings
Q: What exactly does City Council do?
A: City Council works for the people, that’s why council gets voted in by the people.
Cape Coral has seven districts and a mayor, not one is above another which is a total of eight that governs the body of the city.
It takes five strong leaders in City Council which means five votes out of eight. The city manager is hired by the city council to manage the city, the city council is elected by the people to steer the city. If the city council isn’t doing their job then the city manager will steer and manage the city.
The citizens only have the ability to steer the council, not the city manager.
Which means the city council members don’t have the power individually.
The citizens no longer have a voice!
It takes a team to win with five votes and I want to be part of the team. I want to be a valuable asset to the council and the citizens of Cape Coral.
If you are a Cape Coral resident, you vote for all districts.
• Jennifer I. Nelson, incumbent
A: In what ways have you used your strengths to serve the community?
Q: Growing up in an immigrant household, I watched my mom work hard to provide a better life for her children. Education, independence, and a strong work ethic showed me that thriving, requires a solid foundation. Bringing people together builds strong foundations.
Focusing on water quality by creating a stronger fertilizer ordinance and gaining consensus from the residents/business owners, made the change a success.
Serving on the Charter School Governing board for two years, I helped develop solutions for deferred maintenance of the buses and financial sustainability.
The Horizon Council is the voice of business in Lee County. Participating on this board reinforced the need for more workforce development opportunities in our city and region.
Working with PACE Center for Girls since 2009, allowed me to bring in Goodwill to create a voucher program and add logistical support to help. As a board member, we strive to collaborate. Believing in girls is their mission and my passion.
General Election Ballot:
• John Gunter, incumbent
Q: What has been one of your accomplishments since being appointed Mayor?
A: One of my priorities has always been infrastructure improvements within our city. We should not only recognize our needs of today but also plan on the needs of the future. My first week as Mayor, I began having conversations and meetings to discuss the broadband deficiencies within our city. At first, our main broadband provider was not interested in any enhancements or additional coverages in the northern part of our city. I am happy to report today that our current broadband provider is completing their infrastructure upgrades in the northern part of our city. By the end of this year, we will be able to provide premium broadband service to all residents in this part of the city. Additionally, upgrades have been made to our existing service to provide better broadband speeds throughout the entire city. Undoubtedly, this is one of my most notable accomplishments that I have worked diligently on as your Mayor. I am glad to announce we have improved our broadband infrastructure needs of today while planning on the future needs of our growing community.
• Tom Shadrach
Q: How do you compare as a candidate in terms of experience and issues?
A: I am not endorsed by politicians, special interest groups, and employee unions. I have no special interest ties to my campaign or profession, just hard-working Cape Coral residents and business leaders. I spent my 37-year career negotiating contracts with the largest governments on the planet with budgets 50% larger than the Cape Coral budget. I have the professional experience to ensure that Cape Coral tax dollars are not wasted. I will use my Masters of Finance degree and career experience managing 500 employees and billion-dollar budgets to lead this city into the economy of tomorrow. The city has overspent on most projects and years behind schedule. We need only to look at the parks GO bond, the Waste Pro contract, and city permitting to see that Cape Coral needs to be led by a fiscal conservative. Taxes were increased in 2021, while I advocated for the rolled-back rate. I will work to lower taxes and hold the city accountable for costs and schedules while improving services to our residents.
• Wayne Hecht
Q: With all candidates and incumbents basically having the same views, ideas and solutions moving forward for Cape Coral it comes down to which candidate is best qualified. The question should be “What real world experience and proven performance do you have that qualifies you to be on council?”
A: I have 35 years of real-world business experience handling $100+ million transactions annually. My projects involve large budgets and can involve hundreds of employees. I work with Federal and State Courts, Municipalities, Trustees, Assignees, Special Masters, Fortune 500’s, Turnaround Management Companies, and the world’s largest lending institutions. I have a proven track record of integrity, strategic thinking, teamwork, management and negotiation skills that make me ideally qualified for city council.
• Keith Long, incumbent
Q: What makes you the candidate best-qualified for the job?
Experience as a lifelong resident of Cape Coral. Experience as an attorney and business owner. Experience as your current Councilman. Experience as a father of three young children that will be the future generation inhabiting and inheriting the Cape Coral affected by our decisions today. Every decision I make as your current Councilman is rooted in this foundation–in my innate love for Cape Coral.
This City is entering a new era–one full of opportunity–and we need experienced leaders to chaperone this era. As your current Councilman, my leadership has never been questioned and my insistence for governmental accountability has been applauded. The relationships I have built while on Council are incalculable, and would take my opponent years to rebuild. Time that I will utilize to better our City.
It has been my honor to serve as your current Councilmember for District 6, and it would be a tremendous privilege to earn your vote and continue what I’ve started for the next four years.
• 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.