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Issue 601

08/16/2012 at 4:45pm

Kiker Wins PrimaryKiker Wins Primary

For the first time in 24 years, there's going to be a new sheriff, er, county commissioner in town. Fort Myers Beach Mayor Larry Kiker handily defeated 6-term incumbent Ray Judah in the Republican primary on Tuesday, taking 64% of the votes against a man no one thought could ever be beat. Friends and family were awestruck Tuesday night as they watched the results come in from the rooftop of the Lani Kai, where they waited and celebrated with Larry and his wife, Paula.

"We sent a message out to the people and they heard it,” Kiker said in a speech he delivered shortly after the final results came in a little after 8pm. "They heard it was time for us to invest in local businesses and to get people back to work in Lee County. This message has been clear from the beginning and it's only getting stronger as the minutes go by. But it's not over yet, now we've got November.”

We spoke to Kiker on Wednesday morning, and he told us that he is overwhelmed with all the support and very happy.

"I can tell right now that I thought things would slow down after the primary, but I was wrong,” he said. "We're just as happy as we could be, and we're very positive and excited.”

Kiker will face no-party affiliate Charlie Whitehead in the general election on November 6th. He told us that, no matter what happens, it's going to be a win for Fort Myers Beach.

"This is a big win for the island, and a big win for Larry,” he said. "As far as myself, I don't think things are going to change dramatically – I'm going to run the same campaign that I've been running all along – I don't target anyone.”

Whitehead also said that Judah needs to be thanked for his years of service to Lee County.

"Ray did this county a lot of good for a long time, and he needs to be congratulated and thanked for that,” he said.

Judah could not be reached for comment.

Keri Hendry