In the Tuesday, March 5 Town Council election for two seats on the five-seat Fort Myers Beach Town Council, Ray Murphy and Rexann Hosafros were elected with 1143 (Murphy) and 927 (Hosafros) votes in an election that saw many voters surprised to find that their Vote-by-Mail ballot request had expired. Shortly after the polls closed Tuesday night, unofficial results were released by the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office. Dan Allers received 813 votes and incumbent Dennis Boback 431 votes. The vote will be certified following a Canvassing meeting set for Friday, March 8, 2019.
A total of 3314 votes were cast by 1794 voters. Voters were asked to vote for up to two candidates. The highest voter turnout, 40.27%, was at Precinct 81 at Ascension Church. Precinct 82 at Chapel by the Sea saw a turnout of 34.30% and Precinct 127 at St. Peter’s Lutheran saw 32.62% of registered voters turnout to vote.
A change in the Vote by Mail system in Lee County resulted in only 31.7% of ballots cast being mailed ballots. In the 2017 Town Council election, about 55% of Fort Myers Beach ballots were cast via mail. Voters who wish to utilize Vote-by-Mail are urged to sign up for a mail ballot at lee.vote or call 239-LEE-VOTE. Mail ballot requests are good through the next two General Elections, as per the Supervisor of Elections website.
Fort Myers Beach Town Council seats are elected by plurality, rather than by seat, meaning that if two seats are on the ballot, the candidates with the top two vote totals are elected. The 2019 Town Council election had four candidates qualify by the end of the qualifying period on January 18: Dan Allers, Dennis Boback, Rexann Hosafros and Ray Murphy.
Dan Allers is a member of the Bay Oaks Recreation Center Advisory Board (BORCAB) but had never run for council before. Dennis Boback was an incumbent Town Council member and had also served a previous council term. Rexann Hosafros and Ray Murphy had both served on Town Council previously. Allers, Hosafros and Murphy qualified by petition, which required collecting 50 voter signatures and having them verified by the Lee County Elections Supervisor prior to a December 2018 deadline.
Two public candidate forums were held in February, one by the Estero Island Taxpayers Association and one by the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Over $45,000 was donated to the candidates in this election, more than has been donated in any recent Island election. In addition, for the first time, a Political Action Committee weighed in on a Town Council election, sending several postcards to Island voters.
Preliminary data shows Allers with $21,020 in donations, broken down into FMB donors 59%; Florida donors 14% and out of state donors 27%. Total expenditures through February 28 were $17,577.20.
Boback collected $6,625, including $1,300 he loaned his campaign. 91% of donations came from FMB donors and 9% from out of state donors. Total expenditures were $6,165.
Hosafros ended the campaign with $5,575 in donations, including $1,500 she loaned her campaign. FMB donors made up 89% of her donations with Florida donors 11%. Total expenditures as of February 28 were $4,010.71.
Murphy collected $12,600, including $100 he loaned his campaign. FMB donors made up 67% of his donations; Florida donors 6% and out of state 27%. His total campaign expenditures as of February 28 were $6,692.49.
By Missy Layfield