Some time after his election in 2017, Mayor Joe Coviello invited a member of our newsroom team to his office at City Hall.
As it had in under past administrations, the office bore all the traditional trappings of position.
The gatekeeper outside the door.
The substantial span of the power desk.
But the man behind that broad gloss of dark wood was most proud of the personal touches on the shelves within easy line of sight from the big chair to which he had been elected.
The shelves held favorite photos and mementos of family — the wife of more than 35 years, the sons who were this father’s pride and joy.
Mayor Coviello, at this first in-office interview, did not start with a recitation of issues, goals or matters of the Cape, but with a pictorial introduction to those he loved most, his wife, Diane, and their two sons Ross and Alex, both United States Merchant Marine Academy graduates and Navy Reserve officers.
It was their achievements that he listed first. It was they who were his first, best, and obvious source of personal pride.
The Coviello family is in mourning today, grieving the loss of husband and father, the man who coached Pop Warner and then high school football, the man so proud of his boys he dedicated the last dozen years continuing to serve as a congressional district liaison between the congressional office representing Southwest Florida and other youths hoping to receive appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy, which admits fewer than 300 new students nationwide per year.
And today, the city he called home for two decades joins them in their feeling of loss at his sudden passing.
Like many of us whose professions of choice put us in a light of public scrutiny, Mayor Coviello had his supporters and his detractors.
Perhaps former council member John Carioscia, one of those on the city’s elected board who had worked with Mayor Coviello for the longest, said it best — he didn’t always agree with the mayor, but he never questioned his commitment to the city.
“He worked very hard at his job and was very sincere and took it seriously. It’s truly a sad day for Cape Coral,” Council member Carioscia said. “I could see he had a work ethic and he loved his job and wanted to move the city forward.”
Named the first Cape Trailblazer by The Breeze in 2019, Mayor Coviello was asked to list his professional “bragging rights” since taking office.
Again, he started with others first before moving on to accomplishments in which he had a personal hand:
“Cape Coral is consistently named among the safest cities in Florida; one of the best places to retire, raise families, work and live,” he wrote before listing highlights of his then two-year tenure:
— Negotiated the LCEC Franchise Agreement
— Passed the Parks GO Bond to build out our Parks & Recreation programs
— Refined older debt at a lower interest rate saving the city over $25 million in interest costs
— Passionate about the water quality in or area, I worked with the private sector to utilize innovative solutions to the blue-green algae crisis.
— Led the effort to place a School Resource Officer (SRO) in every school in Cape Coral.
— Approved the agreement with FGUA, the city of Fort Myers and the reservoir in Port Charlotte for additional water resources, and a water pipeline, needed by our city.
Where did he see our city going in the next five years?
“I see Cape Coral as one of the best cities in the state of Florida,” he wrote.
And the one word he used to describe himself?
We would agree that “dedicated” sums up Mayor Coviello’s efforts, on both a personal and professional level, well.
It is truly a sad day for the city of Cape Coral.
Our condolences to his wife, his sons, and other members of the Coviello family.
– Breeze editorial