And we’re off…
Election season has come to Fort Myers Beach. We just had a General Election in November. Interest in that election will pale in comparison to interest in the two Fort Myers Beach Town Council seats that are on the ballot March 5, 2019, at least here in Fort Myers Beach.
The qualifying period extends to noon on Friday, January 18, so until then we will not know how many or which names will be on the ballot. As of Wednesday, we know three candidates have qualified by petition – Dan Allers, Rexann Hosafros and Ray Murphy. Incumbent Dennis Boback has qualified by payment of a qualifying fee. The final slate of candidates will not be known until Friday afternoon.
Over the next six weeks voters will get a chance to learn more about these candidates via candidate forums, meet and greet events and through the pages of the Island Sand Paper.
Because we believe that our role is to help voters learn about candidates and their position on local issues, the Island Sand Paper provides free editorial space for all qualified candidates. First, we provide free candidacy announcements; some have already appeared in the paper. We will also give the candidates the opportunity to answer ‘Ask the Candidate’ questions during February. We’ll select questions that will help residents get to know them and their positions on important local issues. We’ve also invited the candidates to submit a Guest Opinion on any subject of their choosing.
The Sand Paper will also cover candidate forums that have invited all candidates. We don’t cover meet & greet or fundraising events for individual candidates or any events that have not invited all candidates to participate. If the past few elections are any guide, there will be several all candidate forums.
All qualified candidates have been or will be informed of how we will cover this election. We’re happy to email a copy of the Sand Paper’s Campaign Policy to anyone who is interested. Send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will not be endorsing anyone. We believe that our role is to help voters gather information on candidates and then let them make up their own minds. Here at the Sand Paper, we have opinions on local issues, of course. You’ll find them on our Editorial page. But we do not endorse candidates. We won’t be telling you how to vote – that is a sacred right and responsibility that is in the hands of each voter.
How can you participate? First of all, are you a registered voter? If not, you need to be registered by Monday, February 4. If you’ve moved, or changed your name, make sure your registration is up to date. Call the Lee County Supervisor of Elections office for details on how to register: 239-LEE-VOTE (239-533-8683). You can sign up for a Vote-by-Mail ballot at lee.vote. Mail ballots will be mailed out about 30 days before the election. They must be in the hands of the Lee County Elections Office by 7pm on March 5 to count. Do you know that you can check the status of your mailed ballot online to confirm that it was received? No wondering if your vote counted or if it was lost in the mail.
We urge Islanders to get involved in this election. Find a candidate(s) that you like and support them. Volunteer to help their campaign, ask for a yard sign, make a donation, host a neighborhood event. Local politics should be a hands-on effort. Do your part.
You can also participate by supporting candidates via a Letter to the Editor. Send us a letter under 300 words telling us why you support a candidate. We will print one letter per candidate per writer. Support three candidates? We’ll print up to three letters, though no more than one per issue. So, if you plan on supporting three different candidates with three different letters, better get cracking! Letters that raise new issues or appear to attack a candidate will not be printed in the last issue before the election. Also, just so you know, we won’t print any letters on any subject from candidates or their families now that the election cycle has begun.
Our Town Council has had more than its share of controversy in the past year. We have joined others in sharing our concern about a number of issues regarding how our town is run. In March, voters get their chance to choose who will occupy two council seats. While residents can speak at council meetings and share their opinion, nothing carries more weight than your vote on Election Day.
Make sure that you are registered to vote before February 4. Sign up for Vote-by-Mail if there’s any chance you won’t be able to get to the polls on March 5. Update your signature. Plan now to participate in this election – for all of our sakes.