Memo to the former mayor -and to the new one- the town government of Fort Myers Beach is not the community of Fort Myers Beach.
And it is important to make note of the fact that the things I am accused of saying in new mayor Bob Raymond's guest opinion (really a Larry Kiker campaign ad), the things the writer deems a malicious attack on the town were in fact written not by me but by Beach Civic Association leader Lee Melsek.
Anyone who knows Lee Melsek and knows his long and distinguished career as a reporter for The News-Press knows the absolute ridiculousness of attributing his words to someone else. He writes the truth. No one has ever been able to tell Lee what to write. Not his editors at The News-Press, not the subjects he interviewed and certainly not Charlie Whitehead. The writer knows this.
I guess it should come as no surprise that former mayor Kiker's campaign, built as it has been on obfuscation and confusion of voters, should adopt this strategy. Many of the voters of Lee County know very little of the records of the candidates between whom they are asked to choose, a fact that plays heavily in the former mayor's favor. I have complete confidence that the voters who educate themselves and become familiar with his background and knowledge and my own will vote for me in a landslide.
I admit that I am not as familiar with the government of the town of Fort Myers Beach as Lee Melsek. I live on San Carlos Island, across the bridge and thankfully not in town, and my own long reporting career was focused on the government of Lee County, not Fort Myers Beach.
But there is no one - not Raymond, who moved here five years ago, not town employees imported from elsewhere and not Kiker, who came on the scene in 2006, who is more qualified to judge the record of town government than Lee Melsek.
Melsek is a lifelong resident of the community of Fort Myers Beach. He was active in the FMB Civic Association and was writing about town government long before Kiker decided to register to vote so he could run for office in 2006. The low opinion he has of Kiker's tenure is far more likely a result of his experiences with town government than anything else. I will not waste time and space defending his self-evident conclusions.
It is true but meaningless that I do not live in the town of Fort Myers Beach. I will not tout my own community involvement and compare it to Kiker's, but I would gladly stack my own knowledge of, contributions to and love for this community against his. Again, those who know him and know me already know this. It is the uninformed and unfamiliar on whose favor the former mayor is banking.
It was my hope as I sought to serve the citizens of Lee County to avoid campaigning in my own back yard. I did not seek out the endorsement of the Beach Civic Association, nor for the most part of the five of six former town mayors who have offered me their support. I would not have chosen to pit my neighbors and friends against one another for my own political gain. Kiker obviously has no such qualms.
It is true that the FMB Civic Association endorsement and the support of the former mayors are both on my campaign website. The fact that those most familiar with Kiker's record do not support his run for county office is significant, and it is something that the voters of Lee County deserve to know.
In fact, it is my belief that had the voters of the town of Fort Myers Beach really known Kiker, he would never have been elected to town council in the first place. I know the people here, and they would not support a candidate who chose to register to vote only so he could cast his ballot to directly benefit himself.
During his News-Press interview (available on YouTube) before the Primary election, a contest in which he rode an unprecedented wave of out-of-town superpac money past Commissioner Ray Judah, Kiker said it was the way town government treated a developer that inspired him to run for town council. That is also when he first registered to vote after living on Fort Myers Beach for more than 10 years.
What we learn from this is that the sacrifices made by Americans to save the world in World War II didn't do it. The Vietnam War didn't do it. Even the tragedy of 9-11 didn't do it. What belatedly awakened the sense of civic responsibility most Americans carry in their hearts and souls from childhood was the way Kiker saw a developer treated when he was 54 years old.
The way Kiker plays fast and loose with the truth, his embarrassing self-serving voting record and yes, his abysmal record as mayor of the town as documented by Lee Melsek and ratified by the entire board of directors of the Beach Civic Association and five of six of the town's former mayors show him undeserving of your vote and support.