Mail ballots have gone out and early voting for the Aug. 30 Primary Election begins Aug. 20.
There are a number of local, state and federal offices up for grabs this year with the primary being the official kickoff for most.
With Florida being a closed primary state, and a whole new election process set in place for the Lee County School Board, ballots will vary from voter to voter this year. Some voters are shut out of key races in the primary and others will get the opportunity to vote in a district-only non-partisan school board race in addition to the two at-large seats open to all voters countywide.
Add in similar, but perhaps conflicting, constitutional solar energy amendments - one on the primary ballot, the other on the general in November- and you have an election year unlike any in recent memory.
The Breeze does not do blanket endorsements in the primaries, particularly in races that are unlikely to result in any clear winner due to multiple candidates. We have, however, offered - and will continue to offer - recommendations in primary elections where we believe another viewpoint can be helpful.
To that end, this election cycle we targeted three races - Congressional District 19 and County Commission seats 3 & 5 - for possible endorsement. We will endorse in two.
We also have a recommendation on the proposed state Constitutional Amendment that will be decided by voters this month.
Our recommendations are:
** Republican Primary, Congressional District 19:?Vote Chauncey Goss
In an election year where campaigns on many levels have left a lot of us feeling like we've been buzzed by a swarm of "Bs" - call them bluff, bluster and bravado - local voters have the opportunity to send a representative to Washington who takes a decidedly different approach.
Chauncey Goss, a longtime Southwest Floridian with a strong history of community involvement, epitomizes the kind of old-school values that need to be brought back to Washington: Roll-up-your-sleeves, get-down-in-the-trenches effort to promote a solid, conservative agenda that also focuses on the issues that matter most to those of us back home.
To get things done, forcefulness is good.
Persuasion is better.
We think Mr. Goss understands the nuance well enough to be effective as the District 19 congressman who not only will need to weigh in on the conservative side of issues like national security, the federal budget and health care, but will fight hard for water quality solutions to fix Florida's Lake Okeechobee-related water woes.
We are far from alone in our opinion.
Mr. Goss, who has eight years of federal budget experience and who currently serves as a city of Sanibel council member, has received the support of 75-plus community leaders representing a wide range of sectors including government, business, not-for-profit and philanthropic.
This was one of the deciding factors in our decision to endorse: When supporters include the names of leaders we know well and respect, we take that to heart
And we believe voters should take it to the polls.
We endorse Chauncey Goss for Congressional District 19.
He's ready to get to work. And he's ready to get to work for us, the residents of Southwest Florida.
Also running: Francis Rooney and Dan Bongino.
** Republican Primary, County Commission District 5:?
Vote Frank Mann
Lee County is among Florida's more diverse.
We have cities, both historic and new. We have beachfront communities and some of the best beaches in the world. We have environmentally sensitive areas, both waterfront and inland. Add in rural communities, farming acreage and rock mines -?and another growth boom in the making as we head toward the million-in-population milestone.
Finding an elected official who not only gets the differences but understands how to balance the respective needs could be hard.
Lee County, though, already has such an official in office - Lee County Commission District 5 incumbent Frank Mann.
Blunt, outspoken - but also willing to negotiate if there is a quantifiable, long-term benefit -?Commissioner Mann is a lifelong Lee Countian who has effectively represented a divergent and ever-changing district on both the state and local level, seldom wavering from a philosophy that melds land preservation and comprehensive plan compliance with growth.
Neither an anti-growth naysayer nor an any-growth booster, Commissioner Mann has long been a voice for the rural communities he represents while acknowledging the private property rights of developers who offer - some might say are squeezed for - the mitigation and infrastructure their projects demand.
With proposals like the River Hall density increase request pending, and the possible expansion of the Babcock Ranch development stretching across the Charlotte County line into Lee expected, Commissioner Mann's experience and expertise is needed now more than ever.
Meanwhile, his "Mann Plan" for Lee County continues to resonate with its promise of fiscal responsibility; growth management, particularly in water recharge areas where it should be limited and urban in-fill areas where it should be encouraged; and land preservation via Conservation 20/20.
He's a steadfast, proven leader whose word is his bond.
Simply put, he does what he says he will do.
We endorse Frank Mann again for Lee County Commission, District 5.
Also running: Ken Dobson
** Vote YES on Amendment 4, Tax Exemption on Renewable Energy Devices
Despite its much-touted moniker as The Sunshine State, Florida law actually denies state officials the ability to give businesses a tax break if they opt to go solar. Amendment 4 would extend a tax incentive already afforded residential property owners by giving the state legislature the ability to exempt businesses from additional property taxes if they install "renewal energy devices" such as solar panels. It also would exempt such improvements from the annual state tax on assets.
Amendment 4 was placed on the ballot unanimously by the State Legislature, and it has our support, too.
One, the amendment would allow the state to consider legislation that would prohibit county property appraisers from adding the value of installed "renewable energy devices" to the taxable valuation of properties used for business purposes. The exempt period would be 20 years. As already stated, residential property owners already enjoy a similar tax incentive to "go green."
Two, the amendment would allow the state to consider legislation that would exempt renewable energy devices from the state tax on tangible personal property - assets such as computers, copiers and inventory.
Proponents, which include the League of Women Voters and various environmental and business organizations, say the amendment, coupled with appropriate legislative action, would give businesses an incentive to invest in solar energy infrastructure, something our state sorely lacks.
Makes sense to us.
We recommend a YES vote on Amendment 4, Tax Exemption on Renewable Energy Devices
Early voting for the 2016 Primary takes place from Saturday, Aug. 20, through Saturday, Aug. 27, at various locations throughout Lee County. Locations will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.
Election day is Aug. 30 with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information on early voting, call 533-VOTE.
For more information on the candidates and their positions on the issues, visit our website, cape-coral-daily-breeze.com,, or visit the candidates' various Facebook or web pages. (Just Google their names.)
- Observer editorial