Marco is definitely getting two new members to join the current council, but who will occupy the third open seat remains uncertain.
Larry Magel was the clear winner Tuesday night nabbing 26 percent of Marco Island voters’ approval.
“The only thing surprising to me is that the two incumbents are so close to require a recount,” Magel said.
He added that he believed voters were looking for a change.
Batte was with his “brothers,” the Marco Island Knights of Columbus when he learned he had won the election. A round of applause and hugs followed. He called his wife, Anna, who told him he had won his second-place seat by 55 votes.
“I am obviously humbled,” he said.”I think the people of Marco Island have sent the message to current council and city that they are looking for representatives who are looking out for them. I think the vote showed that the people reached out to the candidates who would care for the folks.”
Forcht and Kiester however only have nine votes separating them. The turnout was quite high for a municipal election with 48 percent of voters, or 6,107 of those 12,642 registered, mailed or delivered their ballots.
“There’s going to be a recount,” Kiester told his supporters at a private party upstairs at the Bombay Club Tuesday night. The crowd sat down to dinner, and resigned themselves to not knowing the outcome.
Kiester was philosophical about the too-close-to-call-for-now election, saying we will have to wait and see.
His supporters hoped for the best.
"I didn't think it would be this close. Hopefully, Chuck will stay ahead and win this seat," said Gerry Odenbach of Marco Island .
Financial adviser Dave Rush noted the disparity in campaign spending.
"If a man spends $20,000 for a seat on the council on little Marco Island , he should get it. Two, three and four were much closer than I thought," he said.
Reacting to the preliminary results, Forcht said: "From what I saw, it looks like we weren't successful in our campaign strategy. I have to respect the voters of Marco Island . They brought me into office as a relative unknown, and they voted again and I must not have made the grade. I ran an honest campaign and I have nothing to apologize for."
Supporter Tonya Webb was more than disappointed. "I feel bad for Ted because he's worked very hard," she said. "But I feel worse for the citizens of Marco Island who had faith in him and trusted him. We needed his guidance and his input, and I feel bad that it was that close. I think there should be a recall."
The recount will occur at a public meeting of the Collier County Supervisors of Election canvassing board will be held 9 a.m. Thursday at 3301 U.S. 41 East in Building C-2.
Chief Deputy Supervisor of Elections Tim Durham said the canvassing board including Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards, Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala and Collier County Judge Rob Crown will be looking at ballots with either over-votes or under-votes. “Over-votes are ones which the voter selected all four candidates,” Durham said.
“Under-votes are those which the circle may not be filled out completely,” added City Clerk Laura Litzan.
Edwards said the canvassing board’s main objective in deciding the election Thursday will be determining voters’ intent. For example, if a ballot has a fourth candidate selected, but the voter wrote the word “no” by that selection, the board will be able to determine the three candidates the voter really wanted to choose.
Marco resident Pat Santiago, who observed the meeting of the canvassing board Tuesday night, said she was shocked with the election results.
“I know a lot of people didn’t vote for all three (open seats). I thought there would be more definition between the candidates,” Santiago said.
As for whether she believed that the most votes going for Batte and Magel indicated voters wanted a change, she said: “That remains to be seen.”
Update 7:10 p.m. It's going to be a recount. The results came in so close that a machine recount will be done tonight and a manual recount Thursday morning.
The preliminary winners are Larry Magel, Joe Batte and Chuck Kiester.
Currently, it seems to be coming down to a difference of nine votes between Chuck Kiester and Ted Forcht.
Update 7:05 p.m. The canvassing board has not yet reconvened, however, Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards said the final voter turnout is about 48 percent of Marco's 12,642 registered voters.
Update 6:35 p.m. The canvassing board plans to reconvene at 7 p.m. after 13 ballots could not be counted due to signature problems. About 36 ballots total were not counted this week and elections officials say reminders so this won't happen to your vote include signing your envelope and updating your signature on file with the Collier County Supervisor of Elections.
Marco resident Jay Santiago is waiting with abated breath but said he has no comment on his feelings for the candidates or any other comment on the election, he said, and then laughed.
"Well, may the best man win."
Update 6 p.m. At about 7 p.m. the preliminary results are scheduled to be released, however, Tim Durham, of the elections office, said the results may be a little later than that.
As of 3 p.m. Durham reported receiving 3,056 ballots, or 46 percent of Marco voters' ballots.
The Canvassing Board is reviewing ballots with unclear or missing signatures. This is the third day the board has reviewed such ballots, Canvassing Board member and Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala said. Ballots without signatures are rejected.
There are about a dozen ballots being reviewed that have signatures inconsistent with the signature on record for those voters.
Three Marco Island residents have arrived to join the meeting, including resident Jay Santiago.
Update 5:45 p.m. Marco Island is looking to have the highest turnout of the three local municipal elections, including Bonita today and City of Naples ongoing election, reported Chief Deputy of the Supervisor of Elections office, Tim Durham.
He said ballots have been received from close to 50 percent of the 12,642 registered Marco Island voters.
"Bonita's is abysmally low" in contrast, he added.
Marco City Clerk Laura Litzan delivered what will likely be the last 47 ballots at about 5:45 p.m.
More than 100 ballots were left at City Hall through the election and several were brought to the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office today, Durham reported.
"That's a record high compared to about a dozen or so dropped off (versus mailed) in previous elections," he added.
The Collier County Canvassing Board is about to meet at 6 p.m. The board consists of Marco resident and Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards, Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, who represents District 1, including Marco and parts of East Naples, and Collier County Judge Rob Crown, who serves as chairman of the board.
"This is the last mail in ballot election for Marco because Marco passed an ordinance to have their elections on the general election ballot," Edwards said.
Update 3:15 p.m. Voters, who may have procrastinated putting their ballots in the mail, are continuing to drop ballots off at Marco Island City Hall this afternoon, reports City Clerk Laura Litzan.
A representative from the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office came by City Hall shortly after 1 p.m. and picked up 77 ballots in the secure nylon ballot bag.
Voters may continue taking their ballots to City Hall until 5 p.m. and if they miss that deadline, they can drive up to Naples and hand-deliver ballots to the Supervisor of Elections Office until 7 p.m.
"I'll be out in the (City Hall) parking lot at 5 o'clock looking for a sprinter," said Litzan.
City Hall is located at 50 Bald Eagle Drive and the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office is located at 3301 U.S. 41 East building C2.
There's no predicting who might win or lose the election at this point, said Litzan.
"You just don't know what resonated with the voters this time."
It's difficult to say how strongly voters are feeling about the seven City Charter amendments or which of the three of four candidates, all of whom call themselves fiscally conservative, are grabbing the support of most Islanders, she continued.
Unlike the previous Marco election, where there was a stark divide between candidates who supported the controversial Septic Tank Replacement Program (STRP) and those who didn't support that sewer project, the 2010 Marco campaigns have been about less divisive issues, such as controlling government spending.
"I'm just sitting here on pins and needles, looking at the clock. 'Is it 5 o'clock yet?' Just so we can get this going," said Litzan.
As of shortly before 3:30 p.m., Litzan had another 27 ballots in the bag in her office and all ballots delivered to City Hall between now and 5 p.m. will be driven up to Naples in plenty of time for the 7 p.m. deadline.
Update:11:30 a.m. A fairly steady stream of voters have been dropping off their ballots at City Hall since 8 a.m. today, according to Litzan.
She said between 8 and 11:15 a.m., a total of 58 ballots had been dropped off. An 11:15 call to the Supervisor of Elections office by Litzan revealed that 5,671 ballots were in hand, now representing about 45 percent of all registered island voters.
She said she expected the fairly steady stream of drop-offs to continue until the City Hall 5 p.m. deadline.
Ballots are placed by voters themselves in a locked, tough nylon bag that has a narrow reinforced lip. Once the ballots are in the bag, the lip prevents any kind of access to the inside of the bag, unless unlocked..
Tonight's the night to find out who wins and which amendments pass in the 2010 City of Marco Island election. Live coverage at the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office, where the votes are being tallied for the four candidates vying for three open council seats, as well as for the seven proposed amendments to the City Charter, begins here shortly after 6:30 p.m. tonight.
Chief Deputy of the Supervisor of Elections office, Tim Durham, said there are 12,642 registered Marco Island voters this year.
The canvassing board is holding a meeting at 6 p.m. and will release preliminary results from the mail-in election at about 7 p.m. tonight. Final results should be available by about 8 p.m., barring any unforeseen circumstances, said City Clerk Laura Litzan.
As of early Monday, about 40 percent of voters mailed in their ballots. Litzan said about 200 voters delivered their ballots to City Hall as of Monday and they will be delivered to the Supervisor of Elections Office, 3301 U.S. 41 East, Building C2, after 5 p.m. tonight.
View live blogs with each of the candidates:
Also coming later tonight will be results on whether the following seven amendments to the City Charter passed or failed:
Amendment A, update of the city charter, is language cleanup. Redundancies and out-dated information will be removed from the charter if this amendment is approved. Passed with 65 percent of voters' approval
Amendment B, council term limits, will create a maximum council lifetime term limit of eight years, except for those candidates whose terms will be longer by several months due to a change in the election date. Passed with 76 percent of voters' approval
Amendment C increases current council annual salaries of $6,000 to about $9,000 and the current chairman salary of $9,000 to about $12,000. The language on the ballot does not include the actual new salary amounts, but instead will increase compensation by an accumulated COLA to catch up for a lack of increases over the past 11 years plus include annual COLA increases each year after. Failed with 85 percent of voters saying "nay."
Amendment D adds a new duty in the city charter for the city manager to communicate budget deviations of $250,000 or more to council.Passed with about 55 percent of the voters' approval
Amendment E, council-directed investigations, would allow council to investigate, or delegate the investigation of, any city employee or department.Passed with about 53 percent of voters' approval
Amendment F changes the spending cap, which currently limits city council to approving a budget increase of no more than 3 percent plus COLA more than was spent the prior year. The amendment would allow council to use the 2008 spending amount plus compounded 3 percent plus COLA increases for every year up to the current budget year. Failed with about 81 percent of voters' saying "no" to the change.
Amendment G requires an ordinance for expenses exceeding $12 million, preventing the passage of expensive projects by resolutions, which residents can’t petition against. Voters can petition against ordinances. Failed with 58 percent of voters selecting "no."
Raw data of all preliminary results released by the Supervisor of Elections Office as of approximate 7:15 p.m. Tuesday
-About 36 ballots were not counted due to signature errors on the outside envelopes of ballots, canvassing board members said.
-6,107 ballots were received
-There are 12,642 registered Marco Island voters this year
- Joe Batte received 3,535 votes, or 24.84 percent
- Ted Forcht received 3,472 votes, or 24.39 percent
- Chuck Kiester received 3,481 votes, or 24.46 percent
-Larry N. Magel received 3,745 votes, or 26.31 percent
-Amendment A, clarification and update of the charter was approved with a "yes" vote by 3,844 voters, compared to 2,115 voters. That is a 64.51 percent approval percentage versus 35.49 percent voting "no."
-Amendment B, eight-year life time term limits for council members, received 4,580 "yes" votes, compared to 1,432 "no" votes, or 76.18 percent approval by voters compared to 23.82 percent disapproval.
-Amendment C, increasing council members' annual compensation, failed to be approved with 85.09 percent, or 5,124 of voters, choosing "no" and less than 15 percent approving it.
-Amendment D, the added responsibility of the city manager to report budget deviations of $250,000 or greater, was approved by 54.71 percent of voters, or a total of 3,282 votes. Comparatively, 45.29 percent, or 2,717 voters, selected "no."
-Amendment E, the power of City Council to launch an investigation of a city employee or department, was approved by 52.89 percent of voters, getting 3,171 total votes. In contrast, 2,824 or 47.11 percent of voters, voted against it.
-Amendment F, a change to the city's spending cap, was voted down by 80.63 percent of voters, with 4,740 voting against it. There were 1,139 voters who voted to approve a change, representing only 19.37 percent of voters.
-Amendment G, which would require expenses of more than $12 million to be passed by ordinance rather than resolution, failed with 58.15 percent, or 3,404 voters total, voting against the change. There were 2,450 voters who selected "yes," which accounts for only 41.85 percent of the vote.