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Meet, greet the candidates at NFM Rec Center Thursday

August 13, 2014
Pine Island Eagle

It's your chance to meet the candidates who, if elected, will be making decisions on your behalf.

The North Fort Myers Recreation Center will be the site of a "Meet and Greet the Candidates" event Thursday, Aug. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m., sponsored by the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and the North Fort Myers Civic Association.

Candidates from all the races that matter to the area will get a few minutes of mic time to discuss their platforms and answer any questions voters have so they can make an informed decision when they cast their ballots.

The North Fort Myers Civic Association started the event in 2006, according to Gregg Makepeace, president of the association.

Al Giacalone, of the Chamber of Commerce, said the organization started co-sponsoring the event with the civic association in 2010.

"The association felt it was a good way to meet with the candidates they were going to vote for, so they could vote for the right candidate and not the most popular one," Giacalone said.

Giacalone said many of the candidates have confirmed including all the school board candidates in districts 1, 4 and 5, and those in District 2 for county commissioner.

Matt Caldwell, who is running in District 79 for the State House, and Michael Dreikhorn, running in State Senate District 30, also will attend, along with candidates for the 20th Circuit Court in groups 3 and 16.

Makepeace said it will be a busy night for the candidates who will be doing several events that day throughout the county.

"There will be three meetings just north of the river, let along down south. They have to spend time with everyone," Makepeace said. "We try to give the candidates the opportunity to speak and we end up giving them three minutes in a two-hour timeframe."

Makepeace concedes that three minutes isn't a lot of time to convince someone to vote for you, but that tends to be standard practice.

Giacalone said in the grand scheme of things, the event has attracted a small turnout akin to those who vote in the primaries to begin with. Giacalone hopes the rec center can be a permanent place for it.

"Comparing that percentage to those who actually vote, I don't know if there's a correlation, but I'd like to see it better," Giacalone said. "We've held it at three different locations in the last six election cycles. We hope we have a permanent home now."

The event is for candidates who are in the primaries, Giacalone said. There will be another meet and greet on Oct. 2 for candidates in the general election in November.



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