Fort Myers Beach residents Alan Mandel and Dan Andre have both recently announced that they are seeking election to the Town Council in March.
Mandel, currently the Vice Mayor of the Beach, is eligible for the position and will be vying for re-election. He is presently serving his first three-year term and his seat (seat #2) will be open at that time.
"I have enjoyed representing the residents of the Beach," said Mandel. "There are certain issues that I believe need more work."
Andre, a Councilman who was appointed to seat #1 by Council to fill the interim position created by the resignation of former Beach Mayor Larry Kiker after he vacated it to run for County Commission in October, plans to apply for a regular term for the seat he currently occupies.
"I like the direction that the Town Council has been going for the past few years," said Andre. "I would like to make sure that continues."
Both perspective candidates gave their reasons why they are seeking Town Council office.
Mandel, who served on the Town Local Planning Agency for five years prior to Council, stated he has worked on water issues on the Beach for a number of years and is looking forward to that issue being fully addressed once work on Estero Boulevard begins. He also listed pedestrian safety, economic development for the Seafarer's site, working on mitigation for the island's traffic problems and an effort for greater cooperation with the County Commission on a number of issues as vital issues.
"I would like to see the completion of the bonding for the water utility project and begin implementation of that project. Probably by March, we will be able to start work on a replacement (water utility) system," he said.
"Certainly, with Council's direction, I would like to enhance pedestrian safety. There are a lot of more things we need to do to make this island safer for pedestrians and bicyclists."
Mandel serves as Council liaison to the Public Safety Committee and has been instrumental to getting pedestrian signs on Estero Boulevard. He was responsible for proposing Fowler White Boggs to become the new Town attorney representation. And, he applauds Council's efforts in lowering taxes.
"We have been able to reduce taxes, and I would like to continue that effort."
Mandel's experience also involves being Council liaison to the Lee County Horizon Council, Council representative to the Lee County Coastal Advisory Committee (which reviews beach and shoreline projects for funding recommendation to the county Tourist Development Council) and past chairman of the Downtown Economic Development Authority in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"If re-elected, I would like to continue to attend beach and shoreline conferences and maintain the nourishment of our beaches," he said.
Andre, who served on the LPA for roughly six months before Council appointment, spoke about environmental issues and improvement of the Beach's main road and utility work.
"I would like to see beach accesses cleaned up," he said. "I would also like to see Council move forward on the Estero Boulevard Improvement Project as well as our infrastructure and our water system."
Andre listed fiscal responsibility, conservation, integrity, decision-making and being well researched as strong suits. He also stated improving the image of Fort Myers Beach as a goal of his if elected.
"I would like to see the Beach respected a little more. Sometimes, during holiday weekends, things can get out of control. People need to respect the Beach more. We need to improve the quality.
"Regarding Bay Oaks, we have to figure out how to utilize this facility that is costing the town about $1 million a year. Also, the mooring fields have to come into balance. It is costing the town nearly $90,000 a year to operate. I also want to expand the requirements to people who want to be on the advisory committees."
While serving on the Town's Marine Resources Task Force, a position he held for two years and served as vice-chairperson, Andre was instrumental for placing recycle bins at all of the island's beach accesses and writing the Adopt-a Beach program, a program not yet implemented.
"Basically, we would like to ask people or businesses to take a section of the beachfront and sponsor that certain section. Mango Street Inn (he is co-owner/innkeeper) has a section that we are responsible for cleaning up. The big emphasis on it was education with the dos and don'ts of the beach like throwing live shells back into the water," he said.
Andre, who has a degree in Environmental Marine Biology, is a board member of the Friends of Matanzas Pass Preserve. He is currently Council liaison to MRTF and the Community Resources Advisory Board
Andre believes the "fairness issue" is an important aspect to being a Council member. He referenced the consumption on premises issue as an example.
"Everything that we do as a Council, it's got to be fair for everybody. You can't let some do it and not others," he said. "It doesn't matter on which side you fall on."
Council election requirements
According to Town records, requirements for those interested in running for the office of Town Council include:
n Each member of the Council shall be a resident of the Town and a registered voter and shall have resided within the corporate limits of the municipality for a minimum of one year prior to qualifying for election.
n A candidate may announce his or her candidacy at any time, however, before accepting any contributions or making any expenditures, the Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository form must be filed with the Town Clerk's office. The form must be filed before the campaign bank account can be opened.
n Within 10 days of opening a campaign file, candidates must file a Statement of Candidate form.
n The qualifying period runs from noon on Jan. 18, 2013 to noon on Jan. 25, 2013. For a candidate to be qualified, the Town of Fort Myers Beach also requires certain items to be filed with the Town Clerk's office no later than noon on Jan. 25, 2013. The items involve:
n An aforementioned Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Depository
n An assessment fee: A properly executed check drawn upon the candidate's campaign account in the amount of $144, which is one percent the salary of the office sought.
n a statement of candidacy
n a Loyalty Oath
n a statement of Financial Interests (from the Florida Ethics Commission)
n a filing fee: A properly executed check drawn upon the candidate's campaign account in the amount of $432, which is three percent of the salary of the office sought. The filing fee is not needed if the next item is fulfilled.
n a Candidate Petition form: If the candidate is running via the petition method, the filing fee is waived as long as the candidate has submitted a sufficient number of verified petitions from the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office.
To qualify by the petition method, candidates must submit to the Lee County Supervisor of Elections for certification signed petitions of at least one percent of the registered voters of the Town of Fort Myers Beach. In the November 2012 election, there were 4,978 registered voters. Petitions must be submitted to the Supervisor of Elections no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012; the petitions must be certified no later than Jan. 11, 2013.
Council members cannot serve for more than two consecutive full terms. All municipal elections for officers of the Town will be conducted on a nonpartisan basis without any designation of political party affiliation. The next general election for the Council two seats will be March 12, 2013.