Cape Coral City Council appoints Councilman John Gunter as new mayor

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Newly-appointed Mayor John Gunter of Cape Coral. Credit: City of Cape Coral via WINK News.

Cape Coral City Council appointed Councilman John Gunter of District 1 as the new mayor of the City of Cape Coral and immediately swore him into office Wednesday.

Council met to discuss the options provided in the City Charter to go about filling the open mayor seat after the death of Former Mayor Joe Coviello.

City Council chose to elevate one of its members to the mayoral seat and will now need to fill the District 1 seat.

Gunter will serve the remainder of Coviello’s term. He admits he has big shoes to fill.

“Without a doubt he was everywhere,” Gunter said. “He was invested in our community, and I’ll make sure that all work just as hard, so we don’t have any lapse in that type of leadership.”

The District 1 vacancy will be posted Thursday. The City will accept applications through Feb. 5.

Gunter also said he’s determined to get to work.

“My goal has always been to have been cohesive with our council members to keep the best entrance of the community at heart and obeying decisions, and to make sure that we have a high standard of ethics we are representing in our community,” Gunter said.

The original story before Gunter was sworn in as mayor is below.

Despite the pain of losing the leader of Southwest Florida’s largest city, City of Cape Coral leaders are moving ahead to plan for the future.

Cape Coral City Council is meeting Wednesday to discuss what process members will choose to fill the mayor’s seat, following the death of Mayor Joe Coviello.

Former Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello. Credit: City of Cape Coral via WINK News.

The community said goodbye to Mayor Coviello after his sudden passing recently. He served as mayor from 2017 until his death.

“He brought peace to the city,” Councilman Dan Sheppard said. “Our council meetings for many years were always a circus and dysfunctional, and when he became mayor, that all went away. A lot of people might think that that’s not important, but it’s extremely important and getting things done.”

It’s those qualities Sheppard wants in Cape Coral’s next mayor. He and the rest of City Council are set to discuss how to proceed during the night’s meeting.

“The City Charter gives two options,” Councilman Robert Welsh explained. “The first being to hold a special election within the city, and the second to be for City Council to take applications, and then we vote together to fill the seat.”

The City Charter allows Council to elevate one of its own to serve as mayor, but the City would have to fill the vacant Council seat at that point, so the process would start all over again.

If Council were to proceed with a special election, the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office told us it could cost about $250,000 dollars.

That’s one reason, Sheppard will push to appoint a new mayor to serve the final year of Coviello’s term.

“By the time it was all said and done, they’d be filling in for a very short amount of time, so I don’t see it being a good investment for the citizens of Cape Coral,” Sheppard said.

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