Is Cape mayor's marriage to city employee a conflict of interest?

Posted at 6:57 PM, Jul 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-07 07:10:59-04

Cape Coral mayor Marni Sawicki's recent marriage to a city firefighter is not a conflict of interest, according to the city's spokesperson.

Sawicki married Lt. Ken Retzer of the Cape Coral Fire Department less than two months after petitioning for a restraining order against him. At the time, the mayor said she feared for her life and alleged Retzer caused her to miss a council meeting.

City spokesperson Connie Barron says Sawicki's marriage is not a threat to the order of business in city hall. Baron told Fox 4 Sawicki does not have direct supervision over the fire department; therefore she will have little opportunity to influence decisions pertaining to the department.

Former Cape Coral Mayor Joe Mazurkiewicz agreed, but said issues could arise when it comes time to approve union contracts for the fire department.

"The only issue that I see that would be perceived as a potential conflict of interest would be union contracts. The fire department union contracts specifically because her husband is one of the lead negotiators for the fire department," said Mazurkiewicz.

He added that Sawicki should recuse herself from those decisions. Fox 4 was told Sawicki is not required to abstain from voting on issues related to the fire department; however, some of her critics believes it's the best choice.

"It does look like there's favoritism there even if there isn't, and even if everything is on the up and up people are going to talk and there's going to be a lot of whispers. Why put yourself in that position if you have the opportunity to recuse yourself," said Mark Wilson, who plans on running for mayor of Cape Coral in the upcoming election.

Wilson is working on a petition to have Sawicki recalled; for what he calls unpredictable and unprofessional behavior. 

"I would favor someone if I were married to them. I would certainly favor the department they represented so there's your conflict of interest right there," said Wilson."

Fox 4 reached out to Mayor Sawicki for comment on this story, but she didn't respond to our attempts.