As many Americans tuned in on Tuesday afternoon to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., things around Sanibel are starting to heat up in the political arena.
Three of the city's Council seats are up for election in March. Those seats are currently occupied by Mayor Mick Denham, Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane and Councilman Marty Harrity. All three incumbents have filed for candidacy, as well as Dr. David Berger and David Bath, each of them long known among the island's movers and shakers.
With local citizens pondering the future of the City Council, several homeowners were astounded recently by the appointment of Holly Smith to the city's Planning Commission. Her addition came as a bit of a surprise, as the re-appointment of Dr. Berger and Dr. Phillip Marks seemed the most likely conclusion, considering the letter-writing campaign for both commissioners - in this newspaper - which drew a generous amount of attention.
However, the current council body - by a majority - decided not to re-appoint Dr. Berger to the Planning Commission. Instead, Dr. Marks was returned to his seat while Smith assumed the final spot.
In the weeks since, the public has voiced their displeasure at the way the City Council handled the Planning appointments, specifically their refusal during the Jan. 6 meeting to announce exactly who voted for each candidate.
(As reported in the Island Reporter's Jan. 8 issue, casting ballots for Smith were Councilman Jim Jennings, Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane and Harrity. Casting ballots for Dr. Marks were Councilman Peter Pappas, Mayor Mick Denham and Ruane. Denham and Pappas also voted for Dr. Berger, while Jennings and Harrity both voted for candidate Daniel Wexler. Candidate Jim Rainville received no votes.)
However, regarding the upcoming City Council election, it is up to you - the citizens of Sanibel - to cast your votes for the future of this city's leadership. Just as the majority of the nation chose to send President Obama to the White House, the majority of island voters will fill three council chairs at City Hall.
You will see in this issue that some of your fellow citizens have already begun sounding off for their favorite candidates (in the adjacent Letters to the Editor section). A little early? Maybe... maybe not. But the fact that there is already a high interest in taking a political stance in seating the next generation of city leaders is encouraging. In fact, it's one of the most American things you can do.
Here on our pages in the coming weeks, right up until the March 3 election, we hope that you'll share your thoughts about who might be the best candidate(s) to fill the three City Council seats up for grabs. We also hope that you'll be fair-minded and thoughtful in your commentary; Sanibel really isn't the kind of place we want to see mud-slinging and personal cheap shots.
This is your city. And this is your decision.
- Reporter editorial