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Welcome, Mayor Gunter

By Staff | Jan 21, 2021

Cape Coral City Council on Wednesday filled the vacancy left in the wake of Mayor Joe Coviello’s death.

The elected board reached into its existing panel to tap one of its own, Councilmember John Gunter, mayor pro tem and one of Council’s more experienced members.

The city’s charter, its bedrock governing document, gives Council the authority to fill a vacancy through appointment and, given the high cost of a special election — an estimated $500,000 this go-round — it’s an option that has been used in the past. Even when appointing from within has necessitated two appointments, the one for mayor and the second to fill the resulting council seat vacancy as will be the case now.

We recognize the argument of those who believe that elective office should be filled by the voters. Ideally, yes, that’s why they are elective positions.

Two appointments — 25 percent of the board — is, on its face, concerting.

We point out, however, that Councilmember Gunter was, in fact, elected by the people, and Wednesday’s appointment serves merely to change the chair in which he sits and so additional duties, which include running the meetings and representing the Council as its chairman.

Given his performance as the District 1 council member, there is every indication Mayor Gunter will perform those additional duties professionally and well.

Council will now look to fill the District 1 seat through appointment. Applications from residents who reside within the district will be accepted until Feb. 6.

We welcome Mayor Gunter in his new role and thank him for his willingness to serve.

— Breeze editorial