The flow of Marco voters to polls was a slow trickle Tuesday afternoon after heavy early voting. Watch »
- COLLIER RESULTS: Collier County Supervisor of Elections Web site
The first cork popped at 8:15 p.m. at the party for the four pro-sewer City Council candidates on Marco Island.
Supporter Pat Neale came out to the crowd at the Shoppes of Olde Marco and shouted, "We are done and we have won!" once over 90 percent of the vote totals in Collier County were counted.
Those results, which turned out to be the final numbers, ended a surprisingly early night and gave a landslide victory and record turnout for the four candidates -- incumbent Bill Trotter, Jerry Gibson, Frank Recker and Wayne Waldack -- who have vowed to continue the seven-year program that will replace all remaining island septic tanks with sewers.
All four pro-sewer candidates cleared 14.7 percent of the vote with the anti-sewer candidates all hovering around 10 percent. The results make the council balance 5-2 in favor of sewers.
Recker, a lawyer and a dentist, led the way with 5,341 votes, followed by Trotter with 5,164, Gibson with 5,055 and Waldack with 4,998. The closest anti-sewer candidate, Joe Batte, had 3,606 votes.
"I think the people of Marco Island have spoken that we need to bring this whole island back together and bring a positive future for Marco," Trotter said.
The total number of votes cast in the election were 34,000, according to the Collier County Supervisor of Elections, for 12,361 registered voters. The elections office did not immediately release the number of individual voters on Marco, but each voter was allowed to select four council candidates. At its maximum, turnout could have approached 69 percent of island voters, numbers only rivaled in the city's history by its incorporation vote and first council election 10 years ago.
By contrast, the leading vote getter in the 2006 election, Councilman Ted Forcht, won with 2,976 votes. This year's lowest-ranking candidate, Andrew Guidry, had 3,215 votes.
"It was beyond any reasonable expectation I had," Recker said. "I had a gut feeling the silent majority had to be shaken awake."
The results show a resounding victory for the city's more than $100 million sewer program and defeat for those who had campaigned nearly non-stop since 2006 to stop it.
At the election party for the anti-sewer candidates -- Batte, Guidry, Roger Hall and Butch Neylon -- the gathering at Konrad's Restaurant was defined by strained smiles and dotted with tension. The four candidates ran a campaign promising change, looking for a mandate from voters who they said had not been consulted on some of the island's largest construction projects.
"I'm happy because the citizens of Marco Island have been heard," Guidry said. "They want a resort community and they will get it. The developers have won."
Hall, sipping on a martini with his wife, Linda, echoed Guidry's sentiments.
"We had a message that we wanted to protect and preserve the retirement resident community ambiance that the Mackle brothers envisioned," Hall said. "We feel that we offered that option to the voters. They made their choice. This will become now a destination resort."
Hall is vowing to remove himself from the political spotlight following the results. Hall had been a regular fixture at council meetings but said he and his wife are eager to take a trip on their boat to the Bahamas.
But Neylon promised to stay active politically.
"I'll get louder," he said.
Jubilation filled the air as soon as 7:30 p.m. at the pro-sewer party when early voting numbers came in and showed the four candidates with a huge lead in a campaign marked by divisiveness more than anything else.
Tom Owens, 85, a 21-year full time resident on the island, attended the pro-sewer party and called this election his "fifth war" -- the first two were World War II and the Korean War and the other two were Marco's cityhood and fight for its own police department.
Four current councilmembers -- outgoing councilors Mike Minozzi and Glenn Tucker and sitting councilors Rob Popoff and Forcht -- came out to support Gibson, Recker, Trotter and Waldack.
"It's so much easier to leave the city now with these four people coming in," Minozzi said to the cheering crowd.
Forcht made a surprise appearance at the party considering he is one of two anti-sewer councilors already on the board.
"I don't think disagreeing with somebody on one issue makes you a mortal enemy," Forcht said. "These are just my friends as much as the other people are my friends."
Waldack and Gibson also said they're hopeful the divisiveness on the island will end after the election's results.
"Healing is next," Gibson said. "Healing the image, healing the island and making sure people are heard."