In just over 6 weeks, Beach voters
will be asked to make some important decisions on local elections. I
know, I know, we’ve just selected a new U.S. Congressman in a
While many have already tuned out the
August 26th Primary Election because they are not registered
Republicans, the fact is that all voters will be asked to vote to
fill some critical seats on local boards. There are at least two
seats whose ballot has been opened in a Universal Primary, meaning
because all qualified candidates are of one party, we ALL get to
vote. In August.
The only Island board seats up for
election are two Fire Board seats, that will be on the November 4th
ballot. The Fort Myers Beach Mosquito Control Board seat and all four
Beach Library seats, along with one Fire Board seat were automatic
wins for the only qualified candidate for each position.
Too often this means that island
voters will check out of the upcoming elections. We can all be a
little too Island-centric when it comes to elections. We care a lot
about who our Town Council reps are, and our Library and Fire board
reps. But when it comes to the Lee County School Board---not so much.
And that is a shame because we are all
impacted by the decisions made Over the Bridge (OTB) by Lee Count
boards, whether it’s the Board of Commissioners, the School Board
or the Lee Memorial Health System Board.
We have a Lee County School here on
the Island, and our Beach kids attend Lee County Middle and High
Schools. The people who guide the school district hold a lot of power
over the education that our children receive. Don’t have kids in
school? You’re an investor in Lee County Schools whether you have
a child in school or not. You ought to care how that investment is
being cared for and what our county will look like in 20-30 years.
That will be decided by the quality of the education that Lee County
students receive today and tomorrow. Help them and yourself by caring
who sits on the School Board.
Islanders are well aware of the power
that the Lee County Board of County Commissioners has on myriad
subjects that Islanders care deeply about. Whether it’s
Conservation 2020, impact fees, beach renourishment, channel dredging
or road improvements, we are all aware of how County Commissioner
decisions impact all of us.
What hospital do Islanders head to
when they’re ill or hurt? One of the Lee Memorial Hospital System
locations. A community health system run by ten publicly elected
members of a Board of Directors, the LMHS is the largest employer in
Lee County with over 1 million patient contacts last year. While they
receive no direct community tax support, they are a publicly managed
health system and all Lee County voters are asked to select members
of the Board.
The County Commission, School Board
and LMHS seats are all chosen by district. The Island is in District
3. While no District 3 races are on the ballot in August or November,
Islanders interest in candidates should extend well beyond our own
district. All Lee County voters will vote for all five district reps.
More importantly, those who win seats for the other four districts,
vote on issues that affect us all. District 3 could have the best
possible rep, but if those representing the other four districts do
not understand our issues, we won’t be getting any support for
Get to know the candidates for all Lee
boards and vote for all district seats.
We’re a long way from Tallahassee
but the people we send to the Florida Legislature determine what kind
of legislation we get back. There are a couple of seats on the ballot
that represent the Island and surrounding areas, one of them, State
Senate District 30 has just two Republicans qualified so it will be a
Universal Primary on the August ballot so everyone needs to vote
then. The other, State Representative for District 76, has two
candidates from opposing parties qualified, so it will be on the
So, a lot of elections coming up in
August. While Republicans will choose their nominee for numerous
state and federal offices in the Republican Primary, everyone will
vote August 26th on a number of important local races.
The Island Sand Paper will be covering
the August and November elections in our usual manner-by providing
our readers with information and candidate views so that voters can
make up their minds. We will not be making any endorsements – we
trust that voters, if provided with enough information, are best able
to make that decision without our influence.
We’ve sent our campaign policy to
all qualified candidates for the local races mentioned here. Any
reader who would like a copy of that policy can stop by our office or
email us to request a copy.
Look for candidate announcements,
guest opinions and "Ask the Candidate” questions in the Sand
Paper as we approach both the August and November elections. We also
invite letters of support from readers, though only one per candidate
per writer please. See our Submission Policy just to the right for
While the public dialog is often about
national issues, the reality is that local elections exert a much
greater influence on our daily lives and our property tax bill.
We invite you to join us as we prepare
for a classic American rite – Election Day!
"In reality, there is no such thing
as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home
and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote."
-David Foster Wallace
"In politics we presume that
everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or
a state. When we are ill...we do not ask for the handsomest
physician, or the most eloquent one."