by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Sanibel City Council unanimously selected Holly Smith as mayor and Richard Johnson as vice mayor in the Tuesday, March 16 council meeting. Johnson made the only nomination for Smith and she made the only nomination for Johnson.
Johnson said it was his “pleasure and honor” to nominate Smith, who had been acting mayor for the past few weeks and served as vice mayor under Mayor Mick Denham since the departure of Kevin Ruane to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners in December.
Smith is the seventh woman in the history of the city to be seated on council and the third woman to serve as mayor. Her forebears in this position were Zee Butler, Daphne Miller, Nola Theiss, Judy Workman, Louise Johnson, the city’s first female mayor from December 1985 to November 1986, and Carla Johnston, the second female mayor from 2005 to 2007.
Smith began her service on City Council in December 2017, when she was appointed to fill the unexpired term of longtime Councilman Jim Jennings, who resigned after moving to Fort Myers. Smith was serving as vice chair of the Planning Commission when she was appointed to Jennings’ seat by the council. She was one of 10 who applied for that appointment.
Then she was the only one to file as a candidate for a March 2018 special election to fill the rest of Jenning’s term. As a result, there was no special election and Smith was essentially elected by acclamation. She and Johnson were the only candidates to file for two open seats the following year, which again resulted in no special election. Smith began her full term and Johnson filled the seat held by Chauncey Goss when he did not seek reelection.
“I realize the job we have done in the last few years has been a strong one,” Smith said prior to nominating Johnson. “I would be honored for (Johnson) to accept a nomination for vice mayor. We have a team here that is going to be doing a lot of work together and I think there is a process when we come from the audience to the dais. There is a learning curve and we’ve learned.”
The three new council members – Dr. Scott Crater, John Henshaw and Mike Miller – were also sworn in Tuesday and Smith called it “an exciting day” for all of them.
Rec Center Programs Expanded
Council voted 4-1 to expand a small number of programs starting Monday, March 22 at the Sanibel Recreation Center. Councilman Crater cast the opposing vote.
The four tennis courts and six indoor pickleball courts will open, but reservations are still required. Tennis lessons and Round Robin will begin April 12. Co-ed softball registration will begin April 9 and the Rec Center’s current hours will continue. All current CDC protocols remain in place.
The expanded programs do not require additional Rec Center staff. Councilman Miller requested a discussion on the long-term approach to the Rec Center be on the April agenda.