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Lee County Commission District 4

Three-way Republican primary Aug. 26

July 31, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Three are vying for the Republican spot in the District 4 race for the Lee County Commission.

Incumbent Brian Hamman will seek to retain his party's nomination against opponents Andy Coy and Swayer C. Smith in the Aug. 26 primary election. Only Republican registered voters can cast a ballot in the race but they may do so countywide, regardless of the district in which they live. The winner will move on to the general election to face off against Democrat Debbie Jordan.

* Andy Coy

Article Photos

Andy Coy

Age: 55

Residence: North Fort Myers

Occupation: School teacher

Andy Coy has been involved in public service for 32 years, both as a teacher and former Lee County Commissioner. Elected in 1994, 1998 and 2002, he later resigned to run for the U.S. Congress.

"I love public service. I've always loved public service," he said. "I've taught a lot of government and law and economics, and this is part of the real-world government, law and economics."

"It's just a natural extension of what I've been doing," Coy said of why he has decided to run.

He also noted the current lack of public trust for government.

"Within the county commission level, the faith and trust is broken between the elected officials and voters," Coy said. "One of my missions is to repair that trust."

During his 10 years on the board, his votes helped to build the Midpoint Bridge, Veterans Memorial Parkway and Del Prado Extension, helped to enlarge Pine Island Road and Burnt Store Road, led to the beginning of the Northwest Regional Library and resulted in renovations at the Cape Coral Library.

"I think I am very good at bringing back projects to the city of Cape Coral," Coy said. "That would be a major thing that I would like to keep doing (if elected)."

"I also want to make sure Cape Coral gets its fair share of the 20/20 land purchases," he said.

If elected, Coy vowed to resign as a teacher and serve as commissioner full-time. He noted that he was the first commissioner in the city's history to hold a standing office in the Cape for constituents.

"I will have normal work days in the city," Coy said.

As for additional priorities of his, he cited keeping a lid on taxes and working with the Cape.

"I want to make sure Cape Coral gets its fair share of the tax dollars across the river," Coy said. "We did it right before, and I think we can recapture that spirit and do it again."

* Brian Hamman (incumbent)

Age: 33

Residence: Cape Coral

Occupation: Lee County Commissioner, District 4

For Hamman, two top priorities are continuing to grow jobs and getting people back to work in Lee County. A father, he wants future generations to have the opportunity to find good jobs locally.

"As opposed to having them move elsewhere to find good paying jobs," Hamman said.

He cited keeping taxes and spending low as one way to create more jobs because it would allow local businesses to keep more of their money. In turn, they could hire more people and pay employees.

"I want to keep our best and brightest here at home," Hamman said.

He noted that the county's economic development program has come under fire in the past. In some instances, financial incentives were provided to companies that never ended up coming to Lee.

"We have reformed that program," Hamman said.

Companies are now reimbursed incentives based on performance.

One of his biggest accomplishments was getting term limits put on the November ballot.

"Voters will get a chance to decide if they want to place 12-year term limits on their commissioners," Hamman said. "It gives people a chance to have fresh ideas."

He also sought to see the budget balanced this year without using any more 20/20 funds.

Maintaining open lines of communication among his peers is also a priority.

"I'm very focused on getting the board to get along with each other," Hamman said, explaining that the commission now holds afternoon workshops after its regular meetings to delve deeper into issues. "It's really enhanced our communication," he said. "Over the last nine months, this board has really gelled."

n Sawyer C. Smith

Age: 38

Residence: Fort Myers

Occupation: Attorney

Sawyer C. Smith is running because he believes that Lee County has limitless potential.

"I believe with strong common sense and leadership, we can take advantage of our exit from this recession and grow into a community that not only flourishes with existing business but is an attraction to new businesses and new homes for new Floridians and Lee County residents," he said.

"I do believe in the future of our county, and I also believe in giving back," Smith said.

He described public service as civic and community leaders donating their time for the better good.

"It's not supposed to be about politics," Smith said. "Public service is about serving the public, not being served by the public."

He supports responsible and transparent government, both financially and environmentally.

"I'm a big supporter of protecting our natural resources," Smith said.

He is calling for an independent, outside performance audit, as well as a financial audit. Smith explained that the county conducts a compliance audit annually, but explained that the audit is limited in its scope. He wants a review of the budget and interactions between the county departments.

"We can become efficient and sustainable and move further into the 21st century," Smith said, noting that it would be his top priority if elected. "We need to balance the budget without raiding funds."

"It will also lend to transparency in the government, which is extremely important," he added. "The voters and residents, they need to trust and believe in their government."

Another priority for Smith is increasing economic development.

"Too often, we focus on the industries that are already here," he said. "We can add economy to Southwest Florida."

 
 

 

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