Five candidates vying for three seats on the Fort Myers Beach Town Council will be answering issue-related questions at the Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce "Commotion by the Ocean" forum in Council Chambers at Town Hall on Monday, Feb. 24.
The forum, which will feature one incumbent, a former mayor and three Town advisory board members, will act as a great opportunity to hear what possible representatives have to say on certain Beach issues. The general election for the legislative body -conducted on a nonpartisan basis without any designation of political party affiliation- is slated for March 11.
The Council candidates are Vice Mayor Joe Kosinski, up for re-election; former Beach Mayor Anita Cereceda; Chuck Bodenhafer; Rexann Hosafros; and Summer Stockton.
"We need to get the candidates to give their positions on some of the important issues that are facing the Beach," said FMB Chamber President Bud Nocera, who will emcee the event. "We want to allow voters to understand their positions, so voters can make a thoughtful decision."
The forum will begin with a "Meet & Greet" social period with the candidates and members of the public beginning at 6 p.m. Refreshments are expected to be served at that time.
The televised candidate forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. and should run roughly two hours. If unable to attend, watch it on Comcast Channel 98, which is the area's local government television station.
Nocera stated each candidate will be seated at the Council dais in alphabetical order according to their last name, meaning the lineup should be (left to right) Bodenhafer, Cereceda, Hosafros, Kosinski and Stockton.
The format will allow each candidate up to five minutes to provide background information about themselves during opening comments, then up to three minutes each to answer questions on four different Beach-related issues and up to five minutes each for closing comments.
"I would love to hear from the community to suggest questions," Nocera said. "They can call me at the Beach Chamber at 454-7500."
The three soon-to-be-open seats (#3, #4 and #5) are currently occupied by Kosinski and Council members Bob Raymond and Jo List. Of them, only Kosinski is eligible for re-election since both Raymond and List have served the maximum two consecutive full terms. Each Council term is for three years.
Originally the forum was supposed to be co-sponsored by the Beach Chamber and the Town Community Resources Advisory Board, but CRAB bowed out due to a question of conflict of interest since it is a Town committee that has relations with certain candidates.
The nonpolitical chamber's Commotion by the Ocean event began in the early 1980s on top of the Lani Kai, after taking it over from the American Business Women's Association. The Beach Chamber has offered it as a public service to the community for more than 20 years.
"I think the chamber is looking forward to continue this long tradition of 'Commotion by the Ocean'," said Nocera. "It helps the chamber fulfill its role in the community.
We would love to see a great turnout of voters in the audience. We look forward to have the candidates give us their ideas, opinions and potential qualities."
New Chamber digs open for business
The Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has officially opened its doors at its new business residence and will have a celebration for it one week from today.
The Beach Chamber moved from its off-island 17200 San Carlos Blvd. address to Key Estero Shops at 1661 Estero Blvd. (suite 8). The public is invited to the open house and ribbon cutting for the new Beach Chamber headquarters on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
The free event between will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. There will be a cash bar and free hors d'oeuvres courtesy of Caribbean Pearl. The ribbon cutting will be held at 5:30.
"It's great to be back on the beach with really nice offices that are walking distances for a lot of our visitors," said Nocera. "Between this office and the Roxie (the Beach Chamber tourist information trailer), we are really able to provide great information coverage on the Beach and services for our business members and visitors alike."