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Cape Coral City Council endorsements

By Staff | Oct 29, 2011

Early voting for the Nov. 8 Cape Coral General Election begins Monday.

Cape Coral voters will decide who will fill four of eight city council seats as well as determine the fate of three proposed amendments to the city charter, Cape Coral’s foundation governing document.

It’s a critical election with lots of issues on the table – whether to begin plans to restart the utility expansion program or leave the project in hiatus; how to address rising water and sewer rates and whether accelerating impact fees on vacant properties is an appropriate way to do that; how to balance service levels and tax rates as property values continue to tumble; how to spur job development in a community where the primary economic driver – construction – remains comatose.

Cape Coral voters have some tough choices – in at least two races, they can choose to maintain the course a self-described “like-minded” council embarked upon two years ago; sweep in a new slate across the board; or selectively choose among the candidates based on ideologies, positions on the issues, backgrounds and respective expertise and approach.

As a firm believer in a representative form of government, we favor the pick-and-choose, non-partisan method that is neither pro-union nor anti-union, neither pro-incumbent nor anti-incumbent, but looks across the board at individual candidates as well as at their respective places in a fortunately diverse mix.

To that end, we offer the following recommendations for Cape Coral City Council:

District 2

Vote John Carioscia Sr.

The District 2 race pits incumbent Pete Brandt, a retired engineer, against challenger John Carioscia, a retired law enforcement professional with 38 years of public service.

While we are appreciative of the sincere dedication Mr. Brandt has brought to the District 2 seat, we are swayed by Mr. Carioscia’s positions on the issues, his high-road approach on the campaign trail, and his demonstrated courtesy in a variety of venues and forums.

Plainly put, Mr. Carioscia promises to effect change in both direction and in approach, and we welcome both.

We also hail his proven work ethic, demonstrated by successful progression through positions of increasing responsibility.

Through his three-decades-plus law enforcement career with the Chicago Police Department, Mr. Carioscia rose to the rank of tactical lieutenant, serving during his tenure as an officer, a watch commander, a commanding officer, and, for a decade, as a police detective.

Here in the Cape, he has familiarized himself with city issues through the Cape Coral Citizen’s Academy Ambassador Program and he has picked up broad-based support from the business community, which is commendable.

We think he’s ready to go to work.

We endorse Mr. Carioscia in District 2.

Also running: Peter Brandt

District 3

Vote Leonard ‘Lenny’ Nesta Jr.

District 3 has incumbent Bill Deile, a retired military officer and attorney, squaring off with political newcomer Lenny Nesta, a retired Cape Coral firefighter.

Knowledgeable, well spoken, and always exceedingly well informed, Mr. Deile is eminently qualified for the office he holds.

There are times, though, when a new approach is needed.

This is one of those times.

And Lenny Nesta is the candidate who is heeding that call.

Quiet almost to the point of painfulness, Mr. Nesta is no erudite verbalizer. His history, however, whispers of both service and success, and he brings to the table some solid credentials.

Mr. Nesta is a 31-year firefighter whose training includes attendance at the National Fire Academy in Maryland, select schooling similar to the FBI Academy for police. Also an emergency medical technician, he rose to the rank of lieutenant before his retirement here in the Cape last month, and he has served as a member of that union’s pension board of trustees. That’s an elected post with great fiscal responsibility and mandated certification.

Mr. Nesta’s positions on the issues have been clear, if concise, and he also is committed to engendering a more welcoming atmosphere at city hall.

We understand his proposed direction. We favor his approach.

We endorse Lenny Nesta in District 3.

Also running: William “Bill” Deile

District 5

Vote Rana Erbrick

District 5 offers two well-qualified candidates, Rana Erbrick, a local property manager, and Scott Morris, a Cape Coral attorney with a long-standing local practice.

Both are personable, both have expressed a clear vision plan, each has outlined their respective positions on the issues, and each has informed voters as to their planned approach to public office.

Either would serve well.

Rana Erbrick, though, tipped the scales and earned our endorsement for a number of reasons.

She has a long tenure of government and community-related experience going back to Michigan where she served on various committees, associations and boards including time as the deputy supervisor of Harrison Township. There, she tells us, her duties included acting as the liaison to numerous volunteer committees, budget preparation, and day-to-day operations.

She understands how government works.

Here in the Cape, Ms. Erbrick was appointed to the Financial Advisory Committee where she has served for the last 18 months, giving her some local financial chops.

On the civic side, she is a graduate of the Citizen’s Academy, is CERT certified, and is a member of the Cape Coral Police Volunteer Unit.

Ms. Erbrick is qualified and ready and willing to serve on the Cape Coral City Council where she positions herself as in the center, not aligned with the existing council majority, not aligned with the council minority, not a member of the union-endorsed slate but not “against” those candidates, either.

Ms. Erbrick says she is a free thinker and will listen to the public.

We need more of that on council.

With her experience and approach, she’s earned our vote.

We endorse Rana Erbrick in District 5.

Also running: Wm. Scott Morris

District 7

Vote Derrick Donnell

Incumbent Derrick Donnell, a career educator, faces David Stokes, an area firefighter in District 7.

Passionate, dedicated, friendly and informed, Mr. Stokes is a solidly viable candidate. There is every indication he would be a good council member.

Given the critical issues at hand, however, our vote goes to the candidate with experience and proven independence.

That’s Derrick Donnell, as apolitical a politician as we’ve come across.

Dr. Donnell’s voting record clearly separates him from the current council majority – support them or not – but does not slot him into any other camp, real or perceived.

He speaks plainly and, although he’s up for re-election, he has yet to utter the standard anti-tax rhetoric or made any politically expedient promises.

Instead, he’s unabashedly running on his record which he will tell you included a tax bump that positioned the city favorably in terms of the abysmal economic times we face.

On issues relating to city administrative matters, Dr. Donnell also tells voters council could have prevented a number of the current controversies had his non-faction votes prevailed.

His knowledge and experience would be a sad thing to lose, especially when both are so sorely needed.

Dr. Donnell has our endorsement in District 7. He has earned re-election.

Also running: David Stokes

Cape Coral council members are elected citywide, meaning voters may cast a ballot in each race, no matter the district in which they live.

Early voting for the 2011 Cape Coral Municipal Election takes place Oct. 31 to Nov 5 at two early voting locations: the Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place, behind the Lee County building; and The Main Election Office, 2480 Thompson St., Third Floor, Fort Myers.

Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.– 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For more information on early voting, call 533-VOTE.

For more information on the candidates and their positions on the issues, visit our website, cape-coral-daily-breeze.com under News; City Election 2011, or visit the candidates’ various Facebook or web pages. (Just Google their names.)

– Breeze editorial