On Monday evening the three winners of the March 7th Town Council election will take their seats. Congratulations to Bruce Butcher, Anita Cereceda and Joanne Shamp! We all hope each council member who sits on council approaches their service to our Town as thoughtfully as it deserves. A lot of good people are seriously anxious about the future of our Town. There are a lot of different opinions and it’s difficult to sort them all out, but it is now the responsibility of these five council members to do their best to represent the entire island and make decisions that benefit our Town both now and in the future. Let’s all focus on where we’re heading and less on the difficulties of the past.
Just over 40% of Island voters cast a ballot, leading us to once more wonder what the outcome would be if more people voted. With mail in ballots there is no good reason not to vote. Voters can sign up now for mail in ballots for future elections. Just do it! We used to think that maybe the voter registration rolls were filled with voters who had moved away, but no, that’s not it.
Last November’s General Election drew a turnout of over 83% across the Island’s three precincts. Where were those people for our Council election? Do they think a Town Council election in our little town is less important to their lives than a national election?
It’s simple math. Each eligible voter for Town Council was one of 4,932 registered voters. Last November, each eligible voter was one of over 2 million registered voters. We’re no math wizards, but even we can deduce that your vote has a much larger influence locally than it did nationally. Our town deserves to have a better turnout than 40% for a local election that determines a majority of seats on the town’s governing council. The November election had debates and fancy TV ads and plenty of drama. Our council election had casual forums, yard signs and newspaper ads. Yet, it is council that will determine how the town where we all live will run. If we could, we’d only allow voters to cast a ballot in national elections if they had voted in their last local election. Lots of issues with that kind of plan, but the bottom line is we’d like to see voters put more of an emphasis on local, county and state elections and less on national ones.
Thank you to Rexann Hosafros for serving our Town for three, often-tumultuous years! Your reasoned thoughts and carefully considered questions and opinions were appreciated.
Thank you to the 1,979 voters that cast a ballot for Town Council. You are a card-carrying patriotic American, exercising your right to vote when and where it will do the most good – locally.
Thank you to all the candidates that ran for election! It’s not easy to put yourself out there responding to questions on the fly and debating the issues, not to mention complying with the paperwork required to run. Thank you for making the effort – we all benefit when there are contested elections. We learn more about all the candidates that way.
Just before the election, the Estero Island Taxpayers Association funded an independent survey of registered voters in Fort Myers Beach. See the results in this issue. It conducted 276 surveys or 5.6% of registered Island voters selected from voter rolls provided by the Florida Division of Elections. While the sample size was a bit small and didn’t exactly replicate the age demographics of registered Island voters, those asked to participate were selected independently – not by the EITA.
There are some interesting results from the poll that our council members might want to pay attention to. We all, including council members, have the tendency to interact with those who hold similar opinions to ours. That can lead to thinking that ‘everyone’ has the same opinion as we do. The ‘wisdom’ of the echo chamber is that while those people with other opinions are entitled to those opinions, they’re outliers, certainly not in the majority (like my friends and me).
These poll results may shake that kind of thinking on a few issues. Not everyone has access to council members’ living rooms nor will they stand up and speak during Public Comment at Council meetings. But they will answer a few questions on the phone for a pollster. The results are certainly worth a look and careful consideration.