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Four vie for District 77 House seat

July 30, 2014
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

State Rep. Dane Eagle will have ample company in the Aug. 26 primary as he and three others will battle for the Republican nomination in the 77th House District.

Challengers in the closed, Republican-only primary include a man who ran for Congress as a Democrat last year, a former consultant for the DEP, and a former professional ball player attorney.

The winner faces write-in candidate Jeremy Wood in the November election.

Candidates are:

- Terry Cramer

Age: 31

Residence: Cape Coral

Occupation: attorney

When a shoulder injury ended his professional baseball career, Terry Cramer had only a high school diploma. Through hard work, he was able to graduate college, then law school.

Cramer knows the value of education. He also knows we live in an era where politicians aren't seen as trustworthy.

"People say they're upset with politicians in general and their vote doesn't mean anything and once they go to office, they forget their constituents," Cramer said. "They're looking for someone who will make a promise and keep it."

As for his platform, education will be his main concern. If elected, he wants the schools to get students ready for the real world and to get rid of Common Core, which he said makes education too rigid.

"It forces the same curriculum for every student. When you have young kids, it takes creativity out of it. Everybody learns the same thing at the same time," Cramer said. "They need to teach life skills. How to do an interview, hold a conversation and learn the importance of good credit."

Cramer said the area relies too much on tourism and housing and that it needs manufacturing to take it to the next level, which is hard without the right roads.

"Bringing manufacturing in would create thousands of jobs and more property taxes," Cramer said. "The problem is we don't have the infrastructure and there are issues with the government to get the roads we need.

- Dane Eagle (Incumbent)

Age: 31

Residence: Cape Coral

Occupation: real estate broker

Two years ago, he was the local darling who had worked for former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. A DUI charge in April, an allegation which Rep. Dane Eagle denied and that was later reduced to reckless driving, resulted in some criticism.

That doesn't mean the incumbent, who has lived and worked in the Cape most of his life, doesn't plan to hold onto his seat. He said he has helped get much accomplished in Tallahassee in his first term in office.

"Over the last two years I've gotten a lot done. I've passed 14 bills to cut back regulations, cut taxes and protected our streets. But we have a lot more to do," Eagle said. "I'm committed to continuing the fight to reduce government and helping folks in the area."

In the next two years, he said he plans to continue to work for fiscal responsibility, tax cuts and cutting back on more regulations.

"I want to focus on paying down the state debt, so we can have a balanced budget and a fiscally responsible state," Eagle said. "People should have money in their pockets. They spend it better than any politician in Tallahassee."

As for his recent personal issue, Eagle said he has learned from it and that he can rise above it.

"I'm not only a product of my successes but my failures. I've picked myself up after a stumble and learned from it," Eagle said. "I've been knocking on doors, talking to constituents and allowed them to tell me what's on their mind. It hasn't stopped me from being effective."

- Brandon Ivey

Age: 41

Residence: Cape Coral

Occupation: former consultant for the Dept. of Environmental Protection Agency.

Brandon Ivey resigned from his position to run for office. Considering his former job, environmental issues will be the bread and butter of his campaign.

Ivey said he decided to run simply because he "wanted to make a difference."

"I want to improve the lives of people in Cape Coral and Florida overall," Ivy said. "I'm the water-quality candidate. It's probably my strongest point."

Ivy's three-pronged platform includes bringing a marina into the north Cape, expanding practical education opportunities at Cape Coral Tech to include modern manufacturing techniques, and to stay on top of the discharges from Lake Okeechobee and make sure the solution to that is long term, taking environmental and economic concerns into account.

"There's no development in the area on the other side of the spreader canal. The state has boxed that land up and gulf water is pouring over that," This system doesn't work and that's a water quality issue." Ivey said. "A marina will allow for economic development."

That doesn't make Ivey a one-issue candidate. Once in office, Ivey said he also wants to reduce bureaucracy and regulations, repeal Common Core and reduce the size of government.

"Government is designed to get bigger because we pass 200 laws roughly. We need to compile a report every year to the legislature so we can look at ways to reduce regulation," Ivy said. "It's like putting the government on an exercise program."

- Jim Roach

Age: 62

Residence: Pine Island

Occupation: Technology Consultant

Two years ago, Jim Roach ran for office as a Democrat. He said he made the party change because much of what he believed were covered in Republican values.

"All my friends were Republican and I did better in the forums than the other Republicans. This being a conservative area, I felt it was a better fit," Roach said. "My friends came to me and asked me to run. They didn't think Eagle was doing the job with Cape Coral and I would be better."

Roach said his key goal is for the Cape to reach a level of prosperity, which means bringing more business to an area where 90 percent of property taxes come from residential.

"You can't support city services on just residential taxes. I've been a proponent of opening the Rubicon Canal and building a convention center," Roach said. "We need to balance our tax base so the math works."

Roach said if elected he would support the use of medical marijuana and support Obamacare and equal rights for gays.

Roach said his main strength is a level of prospective from both sides of the aisle, which he says would make him perfect for the job.

"The voters aren't happy with the way the parties are handling our business. I bring a lot of nuts and bolts of being 62 into Tallahassee to say I understand the ideologies, but we have to tone it down and work for our constituents, even if it doesn't fit the party line," Roach said.



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