Election Season

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We are deep into election season here on the beach even if Election Day is over a month away. Vote-by-mail ballots are arriving this week and candidate forums are coming up the next three weeks. Time is running out if residents want to be able to vote in this election. Voters must be registered by February 18 in order to vote in the Town Council election on March 17. If you need to change your address or party or request a mail ballot or update your mail ballot signature, now is the time. LEE.VOTE or 239-LEE-VOTE is all you need to know to get all your voting-related questions answered.

While mail ballots will soon be in the hands of those who have requested them, we recommend those voters wait until they hear how candidates answer questions at the upcoming forums and our Ask the Candidate questions.

All candidates, whether for local or national office, usually have “world peace” responses ready for the softball questions. “Why are you running?” “What are your goals?”

Those types of questions and their predictable responses don’t tell you much about the candidate, their understanding of the community, its strengths or its problems, much less any solutions they might consider.

Our community has some big issues on our doorstep. We’re considering a major overhaul of Times Square, Bay Oaks and Bayfront Park. The town is still paying legal fees for a lawsuit that continues to drag on over the TPI-FMB development. Residents are skittish about Town Hall.

From our readers and in Council and LPA meetings, we hear considerable dissatisfaction with the way Town Hall operates and how residents are treated. When they call us, and they do, we suggest they send us a Letter to the Editor, and the universal response is, “I can’t, I need permits.” How sad is that?

These aren’t our issues, they’re brought up repeatedly by residents. Are candidates aware of them? Do they have any ideas on ways to improve resident satisfaction with our local government? Or is the status quo ok?

While there’s plenty of good in our town — Our tourist season seems to have kicked into high gear a bit early this year. Business is booming. Water quality is good. When you walk into Town Hall, the front desk people always greet you with a smile. The Town’s water line project is ahead of schedule and moving fast. Estero Blvd work is picking up speed as it enters the south end of the island – we do have some problems and to pretend otherwise is a disservice to our community.

Voters are tasked with selecting council members who will have to address our problems, not rest on the laurels of things that are going well. Ask any current council member how often they get to deal with the happy stuff.

So, voters, take your time, listen to how the candidates answer the hard questions. Do they know this community? Have they reached out beyond their own circle to talk to residents?  Do they have ideas on how to make it a better place for all of us?