Do you have a vision for Cape Coral? If so, please describe it.
Yes, my vision for the Cape is to have a business friendly, environmentally friendly community that will one day house its own university. Hopefully, a city council that will bring back respect and professionalism to the citizens of the Cape, as well as employees of the Cape. Because I do feel at this time the way, and I've attended council meetings where there has been disrespect. There has been rudeness bestowed upon the citizens who come to the podium. We can go into the disrespect and innuendos negatively bestowed on the employees of this city.
If you have a vision for Cape Coral, please state how you plan to implement that vision as a City Council member.
As a City Councilmember, I would first bring in, after a nationwide search, a director of the Economic Development Office. We have not had an individual whose sole assignment or responsibility is to direct or manage the EDO. We've had an assistant manager be assigned to it as part of his duties. Currently we have a city manager assigned to running the EDO. They tell us how functional it is. I've been around long enough and worked in different units for the Chicago Police Department to know you must have a leader for a leadership role. I would definitely bring in, after a nationwide search. I would bring in a full-time leader director/manager of the EDO. Let's get serious about bringing business into this town. The commercial side of the taxes in this town represent only 8% of the money collected the rest, the 92% are on the backs of the homeowner. If we are serious about it. Let's give the EDO what it needs to bring in more businesses.
If you are elected, what will you do to improve the quality of life in Cape Coral?
Well, I think the quality of life will increase with the amount of money that is going to be freed up from the taxes that the homeowner pays right now. I also believe bringing in the utility expansion project. Some of these people may have short-term memories in regards to Charlie coming to knocking out electric. Some of them did not have water. If you have been here only in the last seven years you may not even know of Charlie and what happens to these wells when there's no electric out there. People were without water. Some of them up to two weeks without water. That certainly impacts the quality of life. Bringing in the University in this town, where children do not have to go over the bridge and across the river to further their education. I think that is also benefit.
What is your position on the UEP?
It should be restarted. Rebid and start up as soon as possible.
What would you do in regard to the UEP?
I would vote to commence with rebidding and move forward with it
What should the City do to support an effort to re-invigorate the business environment in Cape Coral?
We can use competitive fees. Many the counties around us and some of the cities have done that already, prior to us doing it. We always seem to follow, never lead. If the businesses in Fort Myers businesses and Lee County or Collier County are offered incentives, unfortunately, we have to offer competitive incentives. One of the things I also found out taking the Citizens Ambassador course given by our government. After a business has been courted to come to Cape Coral and eventually they go somewhere else, they are gone. I would like to see a follow-up program. When we go out there after they've had a chance to set up their business and talk to the people we courted and asked them, “What went wrong, why did you not choose Cape Coral?” Then and only then can we actually help ourselves in finding out what it truly is that we’re missing. We cannot be losing businesses left and right and just say oh well that is the way goes. We should be doing good business practices that require we follow up an interview and request information regarding why they did not come here. By the way, they do not do that this time. The information that I received from the people I spoke to says they do not do that at this time. They just keep moving on to other projects.
what do you think is the most important issue facing the city in the next four years? If included above what is another issue facing the city in the next four years?
I believe the city manager's position is extremely important. We have a man in that position at this time who does not understand public government, public management. He has zero experience in public management. One of the only things I probably agree with the Mayor, is that Gary King was not the best candidate for that job. That is proven out by emails under the Freedom of Information Act. Why is that? Let's go back to an episode with the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association, which is not that long ago. Mr. King appeared before them, and they were very, very upset. The reason why is that Mr. King, who is a bean counter, decided it would be in the best interest of everyone to revoke the cell phones from the inspectors in the field. Anybody with public service or public government experience knows why these inspectors have cell phones. He may claim the cell phones were not entirely taken away and the city offered a program of partnership with the cell phones, but it does not work that way. It would leave calls open to freedom of information and whatever else. A business phone is strictly for business. You give the individual a phone. Anyway, the construction industry took them to task, and they could not get in touch with the inspectors in a timely manner to have them address different questions they may have or situations they were addressing in the field. At this point in time, I do not know if the phones even given back. If you call they are still looking at, they are still working on it. That is not what we want out of a city manager. It appears those individuals are running to the press with every discrepancy in the city. We are told $5 million in gasoline was missing. There is conflicting evidence on whether or not there were actually accusations made on city employees. But, where would they have gone? The bottom line is that was $31,000 they can account for. What we found out we needed was a new software. Well the software suggestion was given several years ago by the former Director of Public Works Chuck Pavlos. Mr. Pavlos said at that time we need software to keep track. So, anyway that is what we are looking at. We are looking at a city manager who has little or no experience in dealing with the ebb and flow of public works.
How would you, as a council member tackle that issue?
I would do an immediate, nationwide search for the best city manager that we can find. That has developed, worked and made accomplishments in a comparable size city going through comparable pains that Cape Coral is going through. Once I whittled it down to five. I would address the major issues of the Cape by giving the five 60 days, 30 days, 90 days, whatever it would take whatever we agree upon to address the five top issues of the Cape. Now, look at what I'm saying. We are going to have the five best and the five brightest leave the confines of Cape Coral and return 60 or 90 days with their solutions to our problems. From the five, we will pick the best one and still have the answers or suggestions and options given by the other four (candidates) to work with. It has not been done here. It's common sense approach to politics. I do not know why they are not doing it.
What made you decide to run for City Council?
Like most citizens, you complain. You to go to Council meetings and watch and shake your head. I figured it was time to get off the sidelines and get on the front lines. For one, I have time to do it. I have the will to do it. I have the experience in public service to do it.
What in your background, training and experience qualifies you to manage the affairs of a city of 155,000 people?
Being an officer 35 years in the Chicago Police Department. The last several years I was on the Police Department, I went a community policing as a coordinator in the district I was assigned. I had the opportunity to work with five different Aldermen who were equivocal to Councilman here. I learned a lot. The term Councilman is the same as service. That is what it is about. It is about being a good listener. Sitting down with the people of your district in the city that you serve. Responding to their needs and to their queries. It is the only way to have a successful city, to have a Council that listens to the people and acts on their wishes.
How do you differ from the other candidates in this race?
Once again I have to go back to my background. I believe that the experience that I've had in public service. I think actually being employed by the city of Cape Coral in the department of community service for several years. I think that has given me a leg up on approaching the city from a public service position.