Turnout was a little lower than usual Thursday night at the fifth City Council candidate forum of the election season.
And that doesn’t just apply to the attending residents.
The “iDebate,” co-sponsored by Joey’s Pizza and Pasta and by the Marco Island Blog, was attended by just one half of the candidates seeking election to Marco Island City Council, and a smaller than usual crowd turned out to listen to the four hopefuls.
Joe Batte, Andrew Guidry, Roger Hall and Butch Neylon have all endorsed one another in the hotly contested race over four open seats. Notably absent were Jerry Gibson, Frank Recker, Bill Trotter and Wayne Waldack, who have also endorsed one another and run ads jointly in the local newspapers.
Recker cited a conflict — he is in Ohio on a long-standing engagement. Bill Trotter, Jerry Gibson and Wayne Waldack have said the lack of formality in the debate’s organization turned them off from attending.
The four in attendance dealt with a range of issues that have received a fair amount of coverage and consideration so far — and the opportunity for rebuttals yielded little conflict, as the four present candidates are supporting one another on remarkably similar platforms.
All opposed completion of the island-wide sewering program, one of the major tenets of their campaigns.
They each professed a desire to see existing infrastructure improved and repaired, discussed the need for the council to act with a strong voice that leads the city manager and outlined the need for the city to stick to a strong density reduction plan that does not grant special rights to developers.
Rebuttals typically contained the phrase “I agree” as the candidates spoke, largely, with one voice.
Questions were submitted online by residents via the Marco Island Blog, administered by Mario Sanchez, one of the debate’s organizers.
Many of the 220 questions submitted were pointed and thoughtful, but without a full slate of candidates to create some tension and a juxtaposition of views, the forum instead felt like a straight information session on the four present candidates.