Six Contend for 3-Month Council Seat


    When they meet next Monday, December 5th, the four remaining members of the Fort Myers Beach Town Council will consider the appointment of someone to fill the remaining 3+ months of Summer Stockton’s term, after she resigned effective November 30, 2016. Town Charter Section 4.08 calls for the appointment of a successor by a majority of the remaining council members. In this case, the successful candidate would need, at minimum, a 3-1 vote to win the appointment. Stockton’s term expires in March 2017, when the winners of the three seats on the ballot are sworn in during the March 20th meeting.

    Six Fort Myers Beach residents have submitted requests to be considered for the Stockton vacancy, two of them candidates in the most recent council election, one who has already begun qualifying for election in March 2017, and three who are new to the council selection process. Qualifications include town residence for at least one year prior to appointment and voter registration.

    Bruce Butcher of Lagoon Road ran in the March 2016 council election. In his cover letter, he urges Town Council to give priority to those who have already
    “shown their willingness to serve the town with their money, time and effort.” Butcher explains that his 40 years of business experience have prepared him to assist the town “in the budget process, storm water projects, Estero Blvd Refresh, process management, problem solving and other challenges and opportunities that come before the town council.” Butcher has served on a variety of volunteer committees including the Local Planning Agency, Public Safety, Downtown Ad Hoc, Audit and Citizens Advisory Committee for the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

    Beth Cherry of Bay Mar Drive has served the community for many years as a volunteer for youth sports groups. She is currently the Registrar for Fort Myers Beach Soccer and is a softball and soccer coach, as well as an Elder at Chapel by the Sea Presbyterian Church. She has 18 years experience working in the mortgage industry in Fort Myers. Cherry noted in her cover letter that she wants to be part of the solution, “I recognize that many people like to air their opinion but are not willing to help identify and implement a solution. Therefore, I would like to be part of the solution.”

    Forrest “Butch” Critser of Ostego Drive is currently the Building & Grounds Supervisor at Beach Baptist Church, where his son is the pastor. His background includes ownership and management of a cleaning service and service as a Bivocational minister (minister with another job) working with broken churches to bring them back to full capacity. In his cover letter he cites his diverse background as a strength. “My background as a Bivocational minister, former business owner and manager is an asset that would bring balance and peace to the council. Another important asset I would bring as a Council member is my extensive knowledge of our Island’s diversity and ever changing dynamics between the residents, visitors and business owners.”

    Joanne Shamp of the 5000 block of Estero Boulevard applied for appointment to council once before when Larry Kiker left office. She is a current volunteer member of the LPA, Historic Preservation Board, Historic Advisory Committee and Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT). She has also served as a volunteer for the Historic Preservation Board Ad Hoc Committee, Bay Oaks Director Search Committee, Marine Resources Task Force and the Fort Myers Beach Art Association. Shamp is a proponent of fiscal responsibility and a student of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code, believing that they provide a foundation for the town’s small town character. “I will follow it closely in my decision-making and thoughtfully consider any proposed amendments desired by the community it serves.” Shamp has indicated that she will run for council election in March 2017.

    Ber Stevenson, who listed no address in his application, ran as a write-in candidate in the March 2016 Town Council election. Stephenson brings a varied background to the table, having worked as a general contractor, owner of two healthcare companies, receiver for the City of Chicago and owner of organic farms. He states that since his bid for office in March, he has kept up with all council meetings and issues. In his cover letter he states that the town needs to preserve the character of the beach and make it more family friendly. “We need to connect all the dots in an algorithmic manner. We can bring clean water to our beach. We can fix Estero Blvd Construction…we can solve the traffic problems.”

    Lorrie Wolf of Bay Village Drive has served the community as a volunteer member of the Beach Library Board for 16 years, recently stepping down after four terms. She is a retired educator and small business owner of 15 years on Fort Myers Beach. She has also served as a volunteer on the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce Board, Civic Association Board, Pilot Club Board and Lee County Master Gardeners Board. She is a current member of the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation and the Cultural and Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board (CELCAB). In her cover letter, Wolf notes her history of 20 years as a volunteer on the island in a variety of capacities. “Further consideration should also be given for my love and commitment to this town, and a vision for the future growth and enhancement of its beauty and benefit to its citizens, businesses and visitors.”

    Town Council will meet for their regular meeting at 2:00 pm on Monday, December 5, 2017, when it is expected they will consider the selection of someone to fill the vacant seat on council. A workshop will be held that same day at 10:00 am.


    Missy Layfield