Marco City Council candidates wasted no time Tuesday gathering signatures at the start of the qualifying period for January’s elections.
Many attended events where they gathered signatures from friends and neighbors, and others opened their front doors and welcomed residents in to share a cup of coffee and discuss the issues.
Regardless of where or how they picked up their first signatures, many of the candidates kicked it into gear first thing Tuesday morning.
Joe Batte, Butch Neylon, Roger Hall and Ken Allen all held petition drives at their homes, starting the fun when the sun was barely up. Batte said he got his first signatures at 6:30 a.m. from residents on their way to work.
All four candidates had petitions belonging to one another at their homes, allowing “one-stop shopping” for residents interested in endorsing the four, who were the first to enter the race during the summer.
Campaign coordinators even spent time going between homes to distribute extra forms or business cards for each candidate. Allen said Neylon called with a minor emergency at one point in the morning: he had run out of petitions for Allen.
Frank Recker and Jerry Gibson gathered their first petitions at a meeting of the Marco Island Rotary Club, which holds sunrise meetings at the Marco Island Yacht Club. Recker said he gathered a handful of signed petitions, with many fellow Rotary members eager to help him advance through the qualifying process.
“I didn’t even count,” he said of the signatures he gathered. “I’m going from here to my friends at (the Marco Island Civic Association).”
Both Recker and Gibson set out petitions for fellow Rotarians, who lined up to put pen to paper before leaving the yacht club.
For Jack Patterson, the candidate to announce most recently, gathering signatures was synonymous with a stroll through the neighborhood. He walked a few doors down the street from his home to ask long-time neighbor Pat McKee to sign a petition on his behalf. Patterson said he would spend the coming days walking his street, asking for signatures with the help of campaign supporters.
Andrew Guidry found himself balancing his busy medical practice with greeting supporters and gathering signatures.
Some patients with appointments hung around long enough to sign petitions. Others stopped by just to ask for the opportunity.
“It’s been brisk,” he said of the pace of his day. “It’s a challenge running a business and making time to campaign.”
He said he was optimistic that he would get all of the signatures he needed Tuesday, but would gather his campaign team for a final signature drive if he couldn’t get the petitions knocked out in a single day.
By Nov. 30 at noon, candidates must collect signatures from at least 1 percent of registered voters on Marco Island as of the last general election. With 13,409 people registered last time around, each candidate will have to collect at least 134 signatures.
Registered voters on Marco number slightly lower now, however; the Collier County Elections Office reported Monday that there are 12,141 registered voters on the island.
For Joe Batte, gathering the signatures was not about simply meeting the goal of 134 petitions — it was about giving residents a chance to make their voices heard.
“Folks have said, ‘We want to come out and sign petitions, so don’t run out,’” he said. “We’re gonna hand in whatever folks give us because they want us to.”
That even means handing in 1,000 signatures, if that is how many he and his supporters gather, Batte said.
Once petitions are complete, each candidate is required to pay an election assessment fee of $60, or 1 percent of the annual salary of the office. Additionally, candidates must pay 10 cents per signature, equaling at least $13.40 for the bare minimum signatures needed to qualify.
Qualifying period for Marco City Council candidates ends Dec. 3 at noon.
Soon after, the real fun begins. The first candidate debates will begin just two days later.
“I’m hoping between now and early December things will calm down a bit,” said Neylon. “I think January is going to be really intense.”
Recker said he will use the holidays to rest up, and hopes residents can build some stamina for the months ahead, which are sure to go by in a flurry of campaigning and stumping.
“Until the candidate forums begin in December, it will be a nice respite for people with the holidays,” Recker said.
Hall said he is excited about the opportunity candidates will have to meet voters face to face and discuss the issues.
“I think it’s going to be an educational process,” Hall said. “One of the things I’ve always believed is if you know the real facts, the decisions will make themselves.”
The complete list of candidates running for Marco Island City Council is: Joe Batte, Butch Neylon, Roger Hall, Ken Allen, Frank Recker, Wayne Waldack, Andrew Guidry, Jerry Gibson, Bill Trotter and Jack Patterson.
MARCO CITY COUNCIL ELECTION - 2008
- EXPANDED COVERAGE: Marco City Council election