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Missy Layfield - Editor

Peak Season

Now that we’re past the Primary Election, we can look forward to peak season for campaigning. And hope that a few more voters take an interest in the November election than voted in last Tuesday’s Primary.

While the Primary gave registered Republicans and Democrats a chance to pick their nominees for Governor and a handful of other races, most of the races were on everyone’s ballot, including those who are not affiliated with any party. Apparently that was not enough to stir much interest in voters. Which is too bad because those who did vote, elected a state senator a county commissioner and two school board members-all of them will be in position to affect voters’ tax bills for years to come. That’s enough for me to want to have some say in who’s elected.

The November election gives voters another chance to weigh in on a number of important races, U.S. Congressional District 19, Governor, State Attorney General, State Representatives, a whole slew of judges, plus county races for School Board, Lee Memorial Health System, County Commission and a local race for two seats on the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District Board.

If you are not yet registered to vote, or you’ve moved and need to change your registration, note the deadline of October 6th.

While you’re looking at your voter registration card, check the party affiliation. Florida has about 4.6 million registered Democrats, 4.1 million registered Republicans and 2.7 million No Party Affiliation voters. Beyond that there are 13 other parties in Florida ranging from the Justice Party with a mere 68 members to the Libertarian Party with over 22,000 members to the Independent Party with over 265,000 members, though most (nine) of them have under 2,000 members.

When you registered, and were asked "What party?” did you say, "I’m independent?” If so, you might find that you are a registered member of the official Independent Party or the similar sounding Independence Party, when what you meant was you are "No Party Affiliation.” The Independent or Independence Party may reflect your political leanings and be exactly where you want to be. But the numbers seem unusually high for a third party-more than 10 times higher than the next party that does not have a form of "Independent” in its name.

Independent is the word most people use to describe themselves politically if they are not a registered Republican or Democrat. With the usual pandemonium that are our county offices where many of us register to vote while we’re getting a driver’s license, I wonder how many Florida voters are registered as Independent Party or Independence Party (49,500 members) but think they’re independent (small "i”) voters as in no party at all. Words can be tricky. Check your voter registration.

And when the November election comes around, be ready to exercise your right to vote. All voters should select our elected representatives, not just 25 or 30% of them.

Band Shell

The Greater Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts have been working toward a bandshell project for years as a way to promote the arts on the beach. They’ve spoken to Bonita Springs officials about their beautiful bandshell that is the centerpiece of Riverside Park in Bonita Springs and a center for music and the arts in that city. Bonita officials have been very gracious in discussing their process and all that they’ve learned along the way and offering tips and discussion points to consider for the Fort Myers Beach project as the Friends’ ideas for the project began to take shape.

Fundraising has taken the form of concerts at Fish Tale Marina’s Propeller Room, Friends of the Arts raffles at special events at Santini Marina Plaza, the 2013 Putt and Pub Crawl and individual donations. The project is at the stage now where Town Council support for the project is needed to take the next step, working with Lee County to discuss the bandshell project that will hopefully one day sit in Crescent Beach Family Park. It’s all still a concept with plenty of room for input and community support. We hope the community continues to support the Friends’ efforts as they have since the beginning.

A bandshell to provide outdoor performance space for concerts and plays will add to our Island’s ability to showcase local and regional talent. There’s no shortage of talent, but there is a shortage of outdoor performance space on the Island. Fort Myers Beach enjoys an abundance of live music year round. A quick check of our SAND LIFE magazine shows 22 restaurants and pubs offering live music on a Saturday night in September. That’s a lot of live music! Our Island also hosts a number of concerts during season thanks to local churches and Fish Tale Marina, wouldn’t it be nice to also have a classy outdoor bandshell to host concerts?

I can picture pulling up a lawn chair and listening to a concert by the Cypress Lake Concert Band while the sun sets over the Gulf. Let’s make it happen Islanders!

Missy Layfield