The Election for three seats on the Fort Myers Beach Town Council, which has held center stage for months on the beach, but was bumped to the side with the arrival of COVID-19 and its accompanying cancellations, was held Tuesday, March 17. While Georgia decided to postpone their Presidential Primary, Florida decided to go through with theirs. The Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Springs municipal elections were moved to be held on the same day as the primary.
Elected to office were newcomers Jim Atterholt, Dan Allers and Bill Veach. Fort Myers Beach Town Council seats are elected by plurality, rather than by seat, meaning that if three seats are on the ballot, the candidates with the top three vote totals are elected.
Jim Atterholt won his seat with 1,439 votes (24.32%); Dan Allers won a council seat with 1,270 votes (21.46%); Bill Veach took the third seat with 1,094 votes (18.49%).
Incumbent Bruce Butcher was a close 4th with 891 votes (15.06%). In the single digits percentage-wise, was Forrest “Butch” Critser with 500 votes (8.45%), Robert “Bob” Burandt with 395 votes (6.67%) and David Drumm with 329 votes (5.56%). These are all preliminary totals and won’t be finalized until after the March 27 Canvassing Meeting.
A total of 5,918 votes were cast by 2,244 voters for a 46% voter turnout. While voters were asked to vote for up to three candidates, some voters chose to vote for only one or two.
Winners of the election will be sworn in at the April 6 Town Council meeting, joining Ray Murphy and Rexann Hosafros on the Town’s governing council.
Yes on Referendums
Island voters overwhelmingly approved two big changes to Town government. Referendum #1 which asked voters to move Town elections to November to coincide with federal and state elections, passed with 83.47% approval.
Referendum #2, approved with 60.21% of the vote, asked voters to extend council member terms from the current 3 years to 4 years. Fort Myers Beach had been the only SWFL governmental body with an odd number of years, requiring an election two out of every three years and costing the town thousands of dollars extra each time its election was the only one held in March.