| Fort Myers News-Press
The Cape Coral City Council meeting was delayed by about a half hour Monday night when councilman Rick Williams required emergency medical attention as the city prepared for the ceremonial inauguration of its newest members.
Emergency medical crews joined officers assigned to the meeting to provide emergency aid for Williams, followed by ambulance trip for treatment.
After Williams complained of a sudden rise in temperature and other issues, the council chamber was cleared. He was initially treated and evaluated by medical personnel, then was taken from the building into an ambulance, but was in good spirits.
There was no immediate word on Williams condition.
Monday’s organizational council meeting included all the tradition that a 50-year-old city could muster. It began with the incumbent council members present and voting on ceremonial matters. Then, John Carioscia, Marilyn Stout and Lois Welch left and their replacements took the oath of office.
District 5 Councilman Robert Welch was sworn in to the office by his mother, Lois Welch whose term ended with the words “so help me God,”’ the final words of the oath of office, rolled off her son’s tongue.
With the exception of Williams, and the newly re-elected Jessica Cosden, council membership consists of five first-term members, and first-term Mayor Joseph Coviello.
Carioscia, who reluctantly served an extra year due to the extension of his term by a year to align city elections with presidential election years, said before the meeting that he welcomes the change in membership, calling it a time for “new voices” on issues confronting the city.
Those new voices were heard at the first meeting.
More of our coverage: Cape Coral 2020 election results
The first decision of the newly inaugurated council was to change the council meeting schedule, from the present concentration of Monday meetings and workshops to formal meetings of the entire council on the first and third Wednesdays and workshop sessions on the second Wednesdays.
Led by new member Tom Hayden, District 3, the schedule change will take effect in January.
It was endorsed by City Manager Rob Hernandez, who said the convening of a council meeting on late Monday afternoons does not allow enough time to fully prepare council members and city administrators..
The council also provided the votes to make councilman John Gunter the mayor pro tempore. Gunter had had four votes to three for Cosden who held the post for the last years.
Newly elected member Dan Sheppard noted during the meeting that he has been a regular viewer of council meetings and looks forward to participating in the discussions.
After adjournment, Sheppard spoke of his approach to council business, saying it will be to consider issues as they effect the entire city.
As an example, Sheppard offered the council’s work to limit contamination of the water by limiting fertilizer use, but at the same time building new parks with impervious hot-top surfaces, rather than surfaces that let water seep into the ground and avoid causing river pollution.
“What I want is to bring to this city council that with every decision we make, we know we have to look at where does that get us,” Sheppard said. “In business, when I make a decision, such as to spend money, I weigh all the variables and do the research.”
Sheppard, whose businesses include farming and marketing palm trees, was the choice of 52 percent of the electorate for the District 2 seat, defeating Bryan De La Hunt.
Cosden was re-elected to a second term from District 7, racking up thee most votes in the contested races for city council— 63.8 percent of the votes cast in defeating Derrick Donnell.
Hayden was elected from District 3 with just under 62 percent, to beat Chris Cammorotta. Hayden retired in 2019 as engagement editor at The News-Press where he also served previously as sports editor and Cape Coral editor.
The new District 5 councilman is Robert Welsh, who works in the family printing business. To win his first term, he beat Louis Navarra, a long-time educator and frequent speaker on local issues at council meetings.
In other news: Lee schools push to start rapid COVID-19 tests this week