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Don’t overlook our local races

By Staff | Oct 22, 2020

There are 489,192 eligible voters in Lee County. Among them, 201,658 — 41.22 percent — have already voted in the approaching General Election, 170,149 by mail, 31,459 via early voting as of early Thursday afternoon.

Those are pretty good numbers.

Or, say some, maybe not.

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Cape Coral City Council races are back on even-year fall ballots, thanks to the efforts of Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle.

Mr. Doyle kept a campaign promise and allowed municipalities like the Cape to again decide when their elected offices would appear on the ballot. This is something his predecessor refused to do after her predecessor, Philinda Young, pulled these elections off “crowded” ballots, saying her office could no longer accommodate them.

Well, times do change and voting habits certainly have through the years.

As the numbers show, many voters no longer wait for Election Day, opting instead to vote at their convenience.

We think that’s a good thing, and we continue to believe that Mr. Doyle did the right thing by allowing Lee County’s municipalities to decide whether their elections should stand alone or be included on the “big ballots” that draw high voter turnout.

We also continue to believe that the Cape Coral City Council, in January of last year, did the right thing by moving the elections for its seats back on the ballots that also include federal, state, county and other races. It’s convenient for the voters and it’s harder to take a pass on a full ballot that’s generating a lot of attention to one that, well, “just” has a handful of city races.

But here are some concerns that were shared with us this week: The four Cape Coral City Council races on the Nov. 3 ballot could be “lost” among all the races and proposed constitutional amendments. Worse, voters not specifically there for local races might simply “check a box” in the Council races without actually being familiar with who the candidates are.

We agree, skipping the races would be unfortunate and eeney-meeny-miny-moe voting would be worse. Both, though, are a challenge for every race on the ballot, not to mention the state constitutional amendment questions where the language can be confusing and have even informed voters saying “huh?”

However, what has also changed as voters got more options on how and when they cast their ballot is this: Information on every race, every issue, is out there and it is readily available in your format of choice — print, video, social media, web sites and more.

And never have we seen a group of Cape candidates devoting so much effort — so much new and innovative effort — to getting their message due to the pandemic.

If voters are uninformed, it won’t be for lack of trying by those running.

Candidates for the Cape Coral City Council are:

n District 2: Bryan DeLaHunt and Dan Sheppard

n District 3: Chris Cammarota and Tom Hayden

n District 5: Louis Navarra and Robert Welsh

n District 7: Jessica Cosden, (incumbent) and Derrick Donnell

City of Cape Coral municipal elections are nonpartisan with all seats elected citywide. This means all voters in the city may vote in each of the city council contests on the General Election ballot, regardless of party affiliation or the district in which they live.

Early voting continues in Lee County through Oct. 31. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Early voting locations are:

Cape Coral – Lee County Library, 921 SW 39th Terrace

Lee County Elections – Cape Coral Branch Office, 1039 SE 9th Ave.

Northwest Regional Library, 519 Chiquita Blvd. N, Cape Coral

North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 N Recreation Parkway

East County Regional Library, 881 Gunnery Road, Lehigh Acres

Veterans Park Recreation Center, 55 Homestead Road S, Lehigh Acres

Dr. Carrie D. Robinson Center, 2990 Edison Ave., Fort Myers

Lee County Elections Center, 13180 S Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers

Riverside Community Center, 3061 E Riverside Drive, Fort Myers

Estero Recreation Center, 92000 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero

Lee County Elections Center – Bonita Springs Branch Office, 25987 S Tamiami Trail #105, Bonita Springs

For more information on the Cape Coral City Council races and other local elective offices, we invite you to visit our website, capecoralbreeze.com , or our Facebook page, for election stories, the Breeze/News-Press candidate forum video, candidate-provided bios and platforms and our issue-related “question of the week.”

We invite you to read. We invite you to watch.

And we urge you to be an informed voter.

While the federal races do get a lot of attention — as well they should — local races also have a great deal of impact on the issues and policies that affect our day-to-day lives: How much money is left in our pockets and what services, projects and agencies get funded, and which do not.

–Breeze editorial