For the last four years the city council chambers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral have often remained off of the front page of our local newspapers and absent from local news stations. Many residents in our two largest municipalities have probably questioned the toxic sludge in a Fort Myers neighborhood, water bans in Cape Coral and documented police corruption in the Fort Myers Police Department. The connection is not often enough made to the accountability of our elected municipal officials.
In 2017 eleven local Democrats ran for elected office to address these issues and concerned in our communities. Of the eleven candidates, Terolyn Watson and Theresa Watkins Brown were elected in Fort Myers and Jennifer Nelson in Cape Coral. We are delighted with their victories and wish them the best in their elected positions.
Nevertheless, these elections are non-partisan and we do not encourage the partisan political rhetoric that is displayed in national politics. However, our organization will become involved to ensure that all eligible voters are able to have their voices heard and represented by voting.
During the 2017 Primary Election for municipal offices in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, the Democratic Party made great strides. Of note there were 12 registered Democrats running for office, the majority of which were women. Another positive sign was the volunteer efforts resulting over 9,000 contacts made, of which 7,000 were made through Virtual Phone Banks either at the Democratic Party Office or from other locations. Impressively, a handful of volunteers made of over 500 phone calls individually!
Of the ten Democrats involved in a primary elections five advanced to the general election. This is a results of great campaigns and the support by local volunteers.
According to data from the Supervisor of Election’s office, voter participation has increased in municipal Primary elections:
Voter turnout in 2013 – 7.98% 8k overall
Voter turnout in 2015 – 12.08% 14koverall
Voter turnout in 2017 – 13.44% 21k overall
Registered Voters: 126,081
Ballots Cast: 22,980
Voter Turnout: 18.23%
The meager 18% voter participation in the Fort Myers and Cape Coral Election is disappointing to state it mildly. While it is an improvement from 2015’s 14% turnout, Democracy does not function properly when leaders are elected by only a small minority.