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Cape Coral council appoints new mayor

Posted at 10:57 PM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 23:02:35-05

CAPE CORAL, FLA — With the reminder of loss still fresh, the Cape Coral city council met Wednesday night.

A key topic on their packed agenda: who should replace Mayor Joe Coviello and how would they go about handling the replacement?

After much discussion and disagreement, it was determined that the council would pick from within their ranks.

A big factor in that decision was the estimated cost of holding a special election, which came from Lee County Supervisor of Elections, Tommy Doyle.

"You're going to be looking at closer to $500-thousand dollars if you hold a primary and special election," said Doyle.

And then there was the matter of who would be the appointed replacement.

Then-Councilman and Mayor pro tem, John Gunter was a clear front runner, but it wasn't without opposition.

"I'm convinced Council-member Gunter wants that position, but I am not convinced he wants to do the work," said Councilman Rick Williams.

But in spite of Councilman Williams' objections.

John Gunter was appointed the city's next mayor.

Fox 4 caught up with the newly sworn-in mayor who says he's looking ahead to the city's future.

"Our new city manager has a new strategic plan he wants to talk about, and they are the things we'll be talking about in the short term," he said.

But ultimately, Gunter says he hopes to carry on Coviello's legacy, which has this at its core:

"Everything always has to deal with what's best for the community," she said.

Gunter will serve out the rest of Coviello's term, which ends in 2022. There's no word on if he'll seek to be elected to the position at that time.

We're also waiting to see how Gunter's district one seat will be filled, due to Wednesday's appointment.

Councilman Williams was also reprimanded by his fellow council members at the end of the council meeting.

It was revealed that he said "he doesn't know why he's here" and this is the worst council ever" shortly after the council picked the new mayor and wrapped up other official appointments for the night.

Newly-elected Councilman Dan Sheppard said Williams directed some of those comments toward him and Councilwoman Jessica Cosden.

"You're here sir to represent the citizens of cape coral and you're here to do a job. And I hope I'm not being out of order but I'm new to this dais and it was just upsetting for you to look in this direction and say those things toward me and Jessica [Cosden]," he said.