There will be a new kid on the block on city council. So young that if he had been carded at the door of Dixie Roadhouse before being able to enter victory central Tuesday night it would have surprised nobody.
Richard Leon, 26, beat incumbent Chris Chulakes-Leetz in District 4 by more than 1,900 votes to become one of the youngest city council members in Cape Coral history.
And with the victory came the spoils, being congratulated by mayor-elect Marni Sawicki and several council members at a crowded celebration.
Richard Leon is congratulated by his mom Bonnie after his win in Tuesday’s election. Leon beat incumbent Chris Chulakes-Leetz for the District 4 seat on Cape Coral’s City Council.
Leon, one of three candidates to knock off an incumbent, took 56.29 percent of the vote (8,581), with Chulakes-Leetz getting the other 43.71 percent (6,664), a rather easy victory that not even Leon expected.
"I wasn't expecting that, but I was knocking on doors, trying to get my name out there, and I was successful," Leon said. "Thanks to Mr. Leetz for his four years, but now it's time for a fresh face and time to go to work on the issues."
Leon's hard-driving campaign, coupled with some 11th-hour controversies, may have helped put him over the top.
Chulakes-Leetz had been a lightning rod for controversy in recent months, from his public spat with Councilmember John Carioscia during the Southwest 6 & 7 debate and subsequent cease-and-desist order filed against him, to his role in the fire service assessment bond validation, to being red-flagged by city police after comments he made following a break-in attempt at his home.
Leon downplayed all that, ceding his victory to old-fashioned elbow grease by him and his team.
"I'm not sure what it was. I'm focused on the issues and we wanted to bring solutions to the table and sit with the people to make those decisions happen," Leon said."I think people want to see fresh blood and new ideas and solutions that will help the city. We have issues. We need to work on the budget and infrastructure and we're going to work together and it will be a successful city."
Leon is looking forward to sitting on the dais for the next four years, with bringing respectability to the position being job one.
"We want to bring a better representation of the council to the people because that's what they deserve and that's what they're screaming for," Leon said. "This will be the best council we've ever had. These are exciting times for Cape Coral and we're ready,"
Calls to Chulakes-Leetz were not returned at press time.