MARCO ISLAND — Incumbent Ted Forcht, 49, wasn’t able to hold back the forces that brought the sewer project to Marco, but it didn’t stop him from trying and won’t stop him from taking on his next endeavor as he vies for re-election to City Council.
Forcht became the second to file for the 2010 candidacy. The self-described “simple country boy” from Kentucky has served on council for nearly four years.
“If they hadn’t been digging up my front yard to put in a sewer, I wouldn’t be on council. I thought they were strong arming the sewer down our throats.”
His second issue, density, will now move to the top. He wants to prevent the “canyonization” of Marco, “where you have big condos on the left, big condos on the right and you can’t see anything unless you look up to the sky.”
When asked why he frequently votes against many issues, he says: “I’m against spending money and I don’t think government should mess with people. Anything more than keeping the fires out, keeping the peace and keeping the lights on is frivolous.”
Forcht said he and Councilman Chuck Kiester often come to the same conclusions even if it’s for different reasons.
“By opposing the STRP, we look very obstructionist, but we were elected by people to represent their wishes. All I have are promises ... If I said I was against it in the campaign, I voted against it. If I said I’d do it, I did it. I’m proud of that fact. Integrity is the only thing a politician really has.”
Forcht’s ultimate goal is to serve on the Collier County Commission and address Marco, Port of the Isles and other southern Collier County issues.
Recovering from breaking his back last Christmas, he is in physical therapy, working with a chiropractor, so that he can walk his daughter down the isle at her wedding later in November.
The man, who says he has never missed a chance to vote, has worked his entire life with the Forcht family businesses, which includes the news industry, natural resources and banking.
The following is what Forcht had to say on several city issues:
“I wasn’t so much for or against rental housing regulation. You just shouldn’t be able to tell it from the street.”
The idea of a city sticker for residents to be able to park in the swales, if additional parking outside of a driveway is needed, seems like an idea worth studying to him.
He doesn’t agree with Council not giving back the approximate $1.2 million in excess money collected on electric customers’ bills for the city.
Forcht doesn’t think the city over-spends, but he does think financial information needs to be more accessible.
“We’re trying to solve multi-million dollar issues without much financial information in 10 minutes.”
“I don’t like condo versus single-family dwelling fights. I think it’s a fight nobody wins ... When you look at it on the surface, it does seem like it’s not quite fair.” He supported looking into whether condos’ lower utility rates are justified and fair.
“Maybe that’s what the next four years on Marco is going to be – trying to be more fair.”
Taxes and fees
“I would have settled for a slightly higher tax rate this time, but I got so many calls to lower (the millage rate) to 1.59 (mils) that it was such a tough time.”
He said the “big activists” speaking to Council represent the people who really have economic problems.
“I serve as a councilman for the people who when their water bills go up, they feel it.”
Forcht says fees and assessments are “like a oops I guess I need some more” and when the government needs money, it should be in the tax base not in new fees.
Council raises and term limits
Forcht said he supported two-year terms with no term limits. He said it gives the people the chance to “fire him” quickly or keep him hired as long as they want.
As an individual, he supports salary increases for council members, but as a council member, he doesn’t support them.
“The reason is, Council should be open to everyone ... As it stands, a bus boy can’t afford to be a councilman.”
Contact Councilman Ted Forcht via e-mail, TForcht@cityofmarcoisland.com, to hear his stance on other issues or to be added to his list of constituents to learn his take on all issues before council preceding each meeting.