When the Town Council of Fort Myers Beach welcomed its two newest members at its Monday, March 18, meeting, it added some R & R to the Town’s governing board. Rexann Hosafros and Ray Murphy, however, are not really new at all, each having served at least one previous term: Council member Hosafros from 2013 to 2016, eventually becoming Vice Mayor; and Vice Mayor Murphy on the Town’s very first two Councils, from 1995 to 2001, including serving as Vice Mayor then Mayor from the end of 1999 through 2000. The two reflect here on their March 5 election victories and upcoming terms.
You previously served on Town Council – what led you to want to serve again?
Hosafros: I wouldn’t say it was anything about the Town’s current condition, but about the recent allegations of unethical behavior by two previous Council members, and that is all I have to say about that. Also, the Town has lost some of that “Mayberry” feel we used to have, and I would like to see more congeniality all the way around, so that was an important reason, as this is a place that I and many other people love.
Murphy: The bad water quality situation from last Summer really got to me, as I was doing a lot of offshore and inshore fishing, but by June 15 I gave up fishing because it was useless as there were no more fish to catch, just when good fishing should heat up. There were dead dolphins, sea turtles, fish and even whales washing onshore and I did not feel that Town Council was doing enough to forcefully address the situation, and I just grew angrier and angrier! Then the ethical situations against the two former Council members came to light, so as far as I was concerned, it was the right time to return integrity to the Town, so I decided to get back in.
Why did your campaign resonate with voters?
Hosafros: I ran a grassroots campaign that focused on going door-to-door and that to me was the key, as I looked our citizens right in the eye; in fact, my most pleasant surprise was the large number of new people I met. I enjoyed as well speaking to our many Town volunteer organizations, discovering all over again the dedication and energy of our citizens!
Murphy: I am a known Fort Myers Beach commodity from way-back-when and people remember we did a good job back in the day, as our time on Council was scandal-free. Voters realized I was running for office with a purpose, and maybe they harkened back to the good old days, hoping today will become a better day as well.
When you campaigned, what issues did voters most discuss with you?
Hosafros: Water was easily #1, with a sense of dejectedness that the situation might not improve any time soon, but today I sense a new optimism now that there is a different South Florida Water Management District governing board, as many people felt the old group and Federal government or the US Army Corps of Engineers weren’t listening or doing enough to fix the situation. While campaigning door-to-door, I actually made a list of people’s concerns and have that at home, with traffic to no one’s surprise high on it. I hope during my term I do not get bogged down with insignificant issues that do not affect our citizen’s daily lives, to focus on the larger ones that concern most of us.
Murphy: Different quarters of the Town have different issues. If you are a fisherman or outdoorsman, it is the water; if you are a businessperson, it is the heavy-handed way that the Town government comes down on top of you; and to still others it is that Town Council needs to treat our citizens with greater respect, so there are a lot of issues from a lot of different directions.
What will be your primary Town Council issues?
Hosafros: I don’t really have an agenda, as that is not the best thing, I believe. I care about a lot of issues, and what is important to our citizens, plus no one can predict the big topics from one year to another.
Murphy: Obviously my primary focus is water quality because I ran on that, and hopefully I demonstrated that at our very first Council meeting when I made arrangements to have a Pine Island group come speak to us concerning Red Tide. That said, it is our obligation to conduct the day-to-day business of the Town by assisting the Town Manager in the most responsible way. Something that is recently bothering me greatly is the number of potholes the Town has, not only on Estero Boulevard that Lee County controls, but on many side streets. While that may not seem like a huge concern to many people, it is a real Quality of Life issue if they are on your street, so we will get all the concerned parties together to fill in those holes!
What attributes will you bring to Town Council?
Hosafros: As an attorney, I have a different skill set than most, and that gives me a unique way of looking at issues, and I enjoy using my talents that way.
Murphy: The Town needs a little help to right itself, to return trust and stability to Town Hall, as things started to unfold downward, and I can help turn that around. I feel this Council will accomplish that pretty quick, if we did not already do so at our first meeting.
Now that voters elected you again, what would you like to say to them!
Hosafros: Thank you! I will work very hard for you and I love hearing from you. I certainly don’t know everything and people are always teaching me new things!
Murphy: I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I am happy to be back on Town Council, as it is a distinct honor and pleasure to serve you and I look forward to getting on with the good business of the Town. For those who did not vote for me, you will soon discover you are getting a pretty good deal, too!
Tell our residents something about you they may not know!
Hosafros: I love to ride my Blue Vespa that I call “Little Piglet!” People with big motorcycles say they ride “Hogs” so that is why I chose that name for my tiny Vespa!
Murphy: I am the fourth son of John and Anne Murphy, who had 9 sons and one daughter! When our sister Peggy finally came along, she eventually ended up with 5 older and 4 younger brothers, and we heard from the day she was born she would never have a date! That day finally arrived with her Junior Prom, and for some reason, all the boys just happened to be at our parents’ house. In walked in this big strapping young Irish lad who was 6’3” and about 4 feet across, but by the time he got done walking the line of nine brothers, he was cowering; that was his one and only date with our sister!
By Gary Mooney