Election 2022: Candidate Question of the Week – 10-28-22 – Hurricane Ian recovery
Each week through the General Election, 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:
This week’s question:
Hurricane Ian left Cape Coral with devastating damage and the
challenges of a costly rebuild. What does the city need to do to pave the path to recovery?
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.
Here are this week’s responses:
• John Gunter, incumbent
The city’s current priority is to provide the necessary information and resources to the residents of our community to help with their recovery. Many residents sustained many different levels of damage throughout our city, and we need to help guide them to the various resources that may be available to them. The city will be hosting an Emergency Town Hall meeting on Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. with many State and Federal agencies to help explain what resources are available and how to apply. Additionally, there will be an in-depth discussion of the FEMA mandated 50% Rule and how the city can help in that federal requirement. Debris pickup and waterway clean-up is also a priority, and we are moving forward with that endeavor. This was a catastrophic event that will take time to recover from, but our community has come together, and we will be strong and strive once again as a city.
• Tom Shadrach
I would focus on getting all city-owned property repaired as quickly as possible. With area beaches devastated, our parks are a top priority. Many parks are still not open and those that are available are not safe with loose branches and debris. For future storms, I would have a stockpile of signs and streetlights and a team replacing them on day one, our roads are still not safe for our drivers. The Yacht Club pier, tennis courts, and pool need to be repaired and reopened quickly. The Boathouse Restaurant will reopen once repairs are complete, the city needs to get the parking lot open to meet our contractual obligations, similarly with Coral Oaks Golf Course. For the mental and physical health needs of our residents, our new parks under contract need to be finished. Gov. DeSantis stated, “things need to be done in parallel versus serially.” It is time for action, I will work with a sense of urgency. City leaders are already slipping back into a business-as-usual mindset. This is our moment to make the necessary repairs and expedite improvements to benefit the lives of Cape Coral residents.
• Dr. Carol Rae Culliton
The city needs to continue the efforts to remove the debris from Ian and restore services to all areas of the city. There should be a streamlining of the permits process for both demolition and construction. There should be a pause in the collection of the Public Service Tax (PST) that is attached to the LCEC electric bill. The recovery should be in the spirit of building back better than before and with lessons learned from communities that fared better than us. The recovery also needs input from all segments of the community.
• Bill Steinke
First, blatantly show appreciation for all branches of our First Responders, City Leaders and concerned citizens that worked tirelessly to get us where we are today — a daunting task when spread over 120 square miles! Debris and destroyed material removal must continue at the fastest pace possible. Storm drain entries, conduits, swales and culverts must be cleared to prevent further damage during and after recovery. While it may take more time and investment, we must avoid “Band-aids” to anything other than urgent needs and then those items need to be revisited quickly for long-lasting, future-proof, permanent solutions. We must have the vision to build and rebuild an infrastructure and environment that withstands our potential elements and demand it from those that we, as a City, contract with. I am committed to doing just that.
• Patty Cummings
We all have been affected by historic killer storm named hurricane Ian that has devastated so many. In one day lives have changed in many communities, we now realize more then ever how important it is to have strong leaders that know how to fight and use common sense in emergency situations.
Why was the city not prepared for this serious crises? We do live in a tropical state. Thank you to Gov. DeSantis for staying and being boots on the ground, fighting for all of us and calling out the red tape. We need to have emergency plans in every manner from worse-case scenario to best-case scenario. Everyone that works for the city should be trained on occasions just like we do in the schools for fire drills. We have to have a strong team on the dais to make positive changes and to help rebuild stronger than ever in our community. Wouldn’t you like our city to be a great model for other cities to follow?
I am so proud to see how well our community came together after this horrific storm to help each other out and use each other’s skills sets for survival in these desperate times of needs. I pray we will be stronger and continue to help one another as we recover.
• Jennifer I. Nelson, incumbent
Hurricane Ian left Cape Coral with devastating damage and the challenges of a costly rebuild. What does the city need to do to pave the path to recovery?
Fortunately, the city has money in its budget for storm recovery and many expenses will be reimbursed by FEMA. Electricity and water were the first priority with debris clean-up and internet restoration happening now.
Working with residents on the FEMA 50% rule and educating them on relevant resources to help their needs will be very important especially with rebuilding.
Securing our infrastructure in the future through coastal resiliency efforts with assistance from the FDEP will be crucial moving forward. Reinforcing our shorelines for both recreational benefit and storm protection benefits will help protect important assets like roads, equipment, bridges, and structures.
• Wayne Hecht
It has become clear in the aftermath of the devastating storm that our city was not fully prepared for a major hurricane. Fortunately, our Governor was able to step in and got the most important needs done much more rapidly than our City Council’s plan. Now, it is important to make sure our city has experienced leadership through the cleanup, rebuilding and budgeting that needs to take place. Priorities need to go towards getting citizens back into their homes with power, water, and internet. We must triple check that all resources and financial options available to the city are reviewed and utilized if advantageous.
• Keith Long, incumbent
The impacts of Hurricane Ian are immense and will be felt by our community for some time. The City has made great progress in short-term recovery efforts to provide certain semblances of normalcy in citizen’s lives, while we continue with tremendous effort to work on the long-term path to recovery.
Due to unfortunate circumstances, we now find ourselves with an opportunity to rebuild better. This comes by way of ensuring that we bolster our infrastructure to meet current and projected growth. Ensuring the proper method and materials are used in our rebuilding efforts to prevent the catastrophic damage we sustained during Ian from taking place in the future. Making sure we work closely with State and Federal agencies to exhaust all opportunities for additional revenues to assist in our rebuilding efforts.
Who we elect to oversee this rebuilding effort is pivotal to the future identity and sustainability of our City. As a lifelong resident and local business owner, I promise to protect the beauty and identity of Cape Coral in the rebuilding efforts, and keep the interests of its residents at the forefront of these decisions.