A new era has entered Council Chambers in Town Hall on Fort Myers Beach
The three recently elected women -Anita Cereceda, Summer Stockton and Rexann Hosafros - took office after being sworn in during an Oath of Office ceremony on March 18, thereby formally beginning their three-year terms as the first three female Council members to serve on the municipality board simultaneously since the town incorporated in 1995.
After the ceremony, Cereceda was elected mayor (a role she held during the inaugural Council assembly) and Councilman Dan Andre was elected vice mayor during a reorganization process for policy makers in Town municipality.
For the first time in the nearly 19-year history of the Fort Myers Beach Town Council, three women were elected into office at the same time. In alphabetical order, Anita Cereceda, Rexann Hosafros and Summer Stockton were sworn in during an Oath of Office ceremony by Town attorney Derek Rooney.
Cereceda, who became the inaugural mayor of Fort Myers Beach when she was elected to that chief executive role after the Town of Fort Myers Beach incorporated on Dec. 31, 1995, was nominated by Stockton, and all three newly elected women selected her during the majority vote. Standing Mayor Alan Mandel was also nominated. Cereceda then nominated Andre for vice mayor.
"I think there is a potential for us to be a dynamic group," said Cereceda. "I believe that it's always important to bridge the gap of the past and the future."
Cereceda takes over for Councilman Alan Mandel, who was nominated to remain mayor by Andre.
During a discussion period after the two council members were nominated for mayor, Andre cautioned his fellow four Council members to vote wisely for mayor. He stated time and travel is needed to represent the Town, such as attending legislative sessions in Washington or Tallahassee for issues like flood insurance and water quality and being present at meetings with the Florida League of Cities to maintain relationships for the continued pursuit of funding mechanisms.
"Take that in for, whoever is mayor, there are important relationships that we've established that need to be continued to move these projects forward," he said.
Out-going Council members Bob Raymond, Jo List and Joe Kosinski were thanked for their service prior to the reorganization. Raymond and List served two terms on Council from 2008-14 and could not seek re-election due to a term limit clause in the Town Charter.
List was praised for her liaison work with Beach Elementary, a role she took to a new level by initiating youth council meetings to serve as junior town council sessions.
"You did a wonderful job in initiating the liaison job for the school," said Mandel.
List was visited by Beach Elementary fifth graders during the March 3 Council meeting and was given a painting and other gifts for her caring school efforts.
"This is one of the most incredible things I have ever done," List said about her Town service. "Trying to herd all you cats into one group was really a challenge. In spite of all the ups and downs we may have had together, I really love all of you and this town so much. And, I am very happy about this new beginning for us."
Raymond served on the Town Local Planning Agency for 2-1/2 years prior to his six years on Council.
"Bob did a tremendous job. He is someone who always spoke his mind," said Mandel. "You were a good spirit to have up there (dais).
Raymond served as Beach vice mayor from 2010-13 and mayor during parts of 2013 before health complications.
"Anything that we've done has always been in the best interest for the majority of the people on the island," he said. "I really think that the Council, at least in the past six years, has been some of the best we've ever had. We all worked very hard together. If nothing else, we have a lot of respect for each other. I wish the (new Council) a lot of luck. I'm sure you will do a great job for us."
Kosinski served on Council from 2011-13 and was the standing vice mayor from 2013-14. Due to his engineering background he was instrumentally involved with all the infrastructure projects that Council helped come to a fruition.
"One of the most significant projects that so many people enjoyed and really had respect for the generations of the past was the Spirit of '45," said Mandel. "You enabled us to have that event for three years and hopefully it will continue on."
Kosinski was defeated in the March 11 Council elections when he sought re-election.
"Last week, I lost my buttocks to three lovely ladies," he said. "What a ride. I enjoyed every of it. I love this town and was dedicated. I hope this will continue, and I know it will."
After delving into agenda items, the new-look Council selected representatives and alternates to outside committees and representatives to town advisory committees and boards.
The outside selections include: Andre/Cereceda on Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program; Andre/Stockton on Coastal Advisory Committee; Stockton on Fort Myers Beach Elementary School Youth Council; Mandel/Stockton on Horizon Council; Mandel/Hosafros on Metropolitan Planning Organization; Cereceda on Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council and Mandel on Florida League of Cities.
The Town committee selections include: Andre on the Anchorage Advisory Committee; Hosafros on the Audit Committee; Stockton on the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board; Andre on the Community Resource Advisory Board; Cereceda on the Cultural and Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board; Andre on the Marine Resources Task Force; and Hosafros on the Public Safety Committee.