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A few firsts that go further than the ballot this Election Day for Sanibel Island

Posted at 10:38 PM, Mar 06, 2023

SANIBEL, Fla. — An election day that will surely have some say on the island’s leadership. Four candidates are on the ballot, including Sanibel Mayor Holly Smith. Two seats on the Sanibel City Council are up for grabs in this election cycle.

An election cycle that will be a little different from those from the past.

"It’s sort of an approval, maybe, of how things have been handled. It would seem to me to be that way.”

Approval of how things have been five months after Hurricane Ian.

"It’s a huge, huge job to come thru all of this and to make it happen,” said Jerry Davenport, who lives on Sanibel Island.

A huge job to bring Sanibel back. Something that will surely be on voters’ minds on Election Day. It was on the minds of voters for Fort Myers Beach after Ian, as the city saw a leadership change.

Something Davenport, an Iowa transplant now living on the island, says has a chance of happening.

"You never can tell with an election," he says. "And, as things go by, there are always some people who are dissatisfied with how things are running and those of us who think things have been handled very well.”

Davenport says he and his wife voted absentee, a trend they started since calling Sanibel home.

"We did absentee ballot, right? And we have not voted in person since we moved here— we’ve done absentee both times.”

As of tonight, there have been a little more than 4,400 mail-in ballots for the Sanibel-Estero election. There are 33,794 eligible voters with about 13.22% voter turnout so far. A process, Davenport says, that is pretty straightforward.

"It was easy, with the absentee ballots. We worked a lot of elections when we lived in Iowa and so we’ve been around elections and absentee balloting for many years.”

The Sanibel Recreation Center will act as the polling location for those Sanibel voters on Election Day. This marks the first time the building will be acting as a polling place after Hurricane Ian damaged the previous location.

“Due to the other polling sites on the island sustaining some hurricane damage, we were able to make some space available at the recreation center this year,” says Andrea Miller, the recreation director for the City of Sanibel.

The staff with the recreation center says set-up is almost done.

"It’s been very smooth so no hiccups along the way and we are excited for the opportunity to host," said Miller. "We’ll be open as business as usual tomorrow from 7 to 5.”

As for what this Election Day may bring...

“I personally don’t think there will be a big change," said Davenport. "But, you never know do ya?”