Fourteen Contend for Open City Council Seat in December

by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes

City Council members will appoint one of the 14 candidates in December to fill the seat vacated by Mayor Kevin Ruane, who resigned to run for Board of Lee County Commissioners. SC file photo by Chuck Larsen

The final head count of candidates for an open seat on the Sanibel City Council is 14. Kevin Ruane, who served 11 consecutive terms as mayor, resigned from City Council to run for the Board of Lee County Commissioners, a race he handily won in the general election.

Council is expected to make the appointment at its 9 a.m. Dec. 1 meeting, when an interim mayor and vice mayor will also be selected. The chosen appointee will serve until the city’s March election, when there will be three open council seats.

Acting Mayor Mick Denham’s term will expire in March and he will not seek reelection. Chauncey Goss was appointed in the Nov. 3 council meeting to fill the vacant seat of Jason Maughan, who resigned to run for Florida House District 76. That term also expires in March.

During the November appointment, Denham, Councilwoman Holly Smith and Councilman Richard Johnson said they were looking for someone who was not going to run in the March election. They collectively said it would unfairly tip the scale and wanted the voters to choose who should serve on council.

That was even echoed by Goss, who said appointing individuals who agree not to run in March was the “best way not to place your thumbs on the scale of the election.” He also encouraged all of the candidates to throw their hats in the ring in March and let the voters decide who should serve on council.

In December, the four council members will select from candidates: Mary Bondurant, James “Jim” Brady, Jennifer Braun, Aaron Cohen, Robyn Cook, Arlene Dillon, Douglas Gould, Roger Grogman, John Henshaw, Jason Maughan, Mike Miller, Jerry Muench, Charles “Chuck” Sterret and Michael Wood, M.D. Many of these candidates submitted their names for appointment in November.

Mary Bondurant

Bondurant served in the U.S. Air Force and the Pennsylvania Air National Guard for 10 years prior to moving to Sanibel. She is a Realtor with Kingfisher Real Estate and has been active in the island community that began with volunteering in several capacities at the Sanibel School. She has since helped organize the annual Community Thanksgiving Celebration and founded the “Let’s Pink Out” Breast Cancer Awareness & Detection Program. She is past president of the local American Business Womens Association chapter and was named “Businesswoman of the Year.” She recently assisted in establishing the independent Sanibel-Captiva Businesswomen’s Organization. She serves on the boards of the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village and Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, of which she is past chair. She is a member of Zonta, Sanibel Community House, America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva, The Island Cotillion and Lee Coast Chapter of the Military Officers’ Association.

James “Jim” Brady
After 25 years of Sanibel as his secondary residence, Brady and his wife Barbara made the island their primary residence in October. He holds a license as a Certified Public Accountant in Georgia, Illinois, Washington D.C., and Rhode Island. He is vice chairman of Advisory Services with alliantgroup, a provider of specialty tax services. He serves on the alliantgroup strategic advisory board and as vice chairman leading the buildout of new specialty advisory businesses. He also currently serves on several boards, both not-for-profit and for profit.

Jennifer Braun
Braun has been an island resident since last fall. She is an entrepreneur who launched her first business at age 27 and built a three-person shoestring company into a multi-million dollar venture in less than three years. She is a member of the Children’s Education Center of the Islands Board and the Sanibel School PTA Board Treasurer. Braun is passionate about what she sees as the unique position Sanibel can leverage in ecotourism, environmental consciousness, remote schooling/careers, generational transitioning, construction redevelopment opportunities and a return to the days of small, supportive communities.

Aaron Cohen
Cohen retired from a 31-year career with the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, in which he was a budget analyst, budget director at Harlem Hospital, HHC Budget Director, and CFO of North Central Bronx Hospital, Metropolitan Hospital and for 19 years at Bellevue Hospital. He first visited Sanibel Island in 1996 with his wife Dorothy and they purchased their home just before Hurricane Charley in 2004. He has organized and moderated health-related topics for several years and taught a course on “The Second Most Famous Detective in the World” at BIG ARTS. He moderates Talking Points several times each year at BIG ARTS.

Robyn Cook
Cook became a full-time Sanibel resident in 2014 and has been the leader of several local, non-partisan community organizations. She joined the League of Women Voters of Sanibel in 2015, serving as secretary for the Board of the League and as its president for the past three years. She chaired the Heron’s Landing Homeowners Association for several years and currently serves as a board member and corporate secretary for the Captiva Island Yacht Club. She was a long-time elected member of the city council and several civic commissions in her former hometown of Wayzata, Minn. She was named “Person of the Year” in 2007 by the Wayzata Chamber of Commerce for her extensive community volunteer work. Cook also held leadership positions on non-profit boards in Wayzata.

Arlene Dillon
Dillon has lived on Sanibel Island for the past 15 years. She has more than 25 years experience in national television news and founded a small business specializing in video production, media management and broadcast services. She taught media production and video editing at the Sanibel School and is currently a substitute teacher. She serves on the school’s advisory council, as chair of BIG ARTS Talking Points Series, Community Housing and Resources fundraiser co-chair and volunteer, and HOA vice president of the Tradewinds neighborhood. She is a past member of the BIG ARTS Board of Directors.

Roger Grogman
Grogman a full-time island resident and serves as vice chair of the Sanibel Planning Commission. He is the Sanibel Community Association President and member of the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Capital Cabinet and Board. He was president of the Shell Harbor Property Owners Association for three years and now serves as a board member. He is a board member of the Sanibel Captiva Rotary Club and a member of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

Douglas Gould, Esq.
Gould, his wife Christina and daughter Reagan moved permanently to Sanibel in August 2017. He serves as a member of the Coastal Watch Advisory Board. He has 24 years experience as a litigation attorney and five years experience as an assistant district attorney in Norristown, Penn. He was a county solicitor for Montgomery County, Penn., and a solicitor to Borough Council for the Borough of Bridgeport in Pennsylvania. He is currently with Linde Law Group in Fort Myers.

John Henshaw
Henshaw and his wife Jane have lived full-time on Sanibel since 2002. He is a health and safety professional with more than 45 years of industrial hygiene, safety, environmental health and quality assurance experience. He was nominated by President George W. Bush and unanimously approved by the Senate HELP Committee and U.S. Senate as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in August 2001 and served in that position through 2004. He also served in executive director positions in environment, safety, health and quality assurance at three fortune 500 chemical companies. He is currently president of John Henshaw and Associates, a consulting firm on Sanibel that specializes in environmental and occupational health and safety.

Jason Maughan
Maughan is seeking reappointment after losing his race for the Florida House. He was first elected to council in March 2017 after serving two terms as a Sanibel Planning Commissioner and chairman of the Land Development Review Subcommittee. He is an attorney with Maughan, Himschoot & Adams Group. He has served as a board member and general council for Community Housing & Resources and president of the Sanibel School Fund, as well as a member of the school’s advisory council. He volunteers for the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife and is co-Den Leader with his wife Babs for the Sanibel Cub Scout Pack 1740. Maughan grew up on Sanibel and has lived in the same island neighborhood for the past 40 years.

Mike Miller
Miller has spent 20 years as an active member of the Sanibel community. He spent five years on the Committee of the Islands board with three as its president. He also spent a total of five years on city budget and parks and recreation committees. His other community involvement includes seven years on the Sanibel Bicycle Club board and several years on the Progressive Club of the Islands board. He is a member of the Interfaith Shared Scholar Committee and Together-A-Way Forward group. He volunteers at the Sanibel Recreation Center and FISH of SANCAP. His career as an attorney and Certified Public Accountant spans two decades and he spent 17 years as a financial executive for large corporations. Miller was also a Captain in the U.S. Air Force serving as a pilot and aircraft commander during Vietnam.

Jerry Muench
Muench has been a Sanibel resident for the past 56 years. He previously served four years on the Sanibel Planning Commission and eight years on the Sanibel City Council. He has been a Sanibel Fire Rescue District Commissioner for the past 20 years.

Charles “Chuck” Sterret
Sterret has 43 years of engineering project management for Westinghouse Electric Company and holds a U.S. Patent for “Simplified Logic for Two Loop, Non-Bypass NSSS Temperature Measurement.” He serves as vice-president of the Island Woods HOA, and is a member of the St. Michael and All Angels Church building and grounds committee. He recently served on the search committee for the church’s new rector. His specific areas of interest are bicycle safety and clean water standards.

Michael Wood, M.D.
Wood has owned Sanibel property since 1996 and became a legal island resident in 2005. He is a member of St. Michael and All Angels Church, a social member of The Sanctuary Club and served on the BIG ARTS renovation steering committee. He has experience in governance positions at the Mayo Clinic, where he served as president and CEO. He was chair of the Mayo Foundation Executive Committee, director of Mayo Regional Health System and Mayo Group Practice Education. He has also served on the boards of several public and private companies, as well as non-profit organizations. He has been a professor of orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine for the past 31 years and serves as a consultant at the Mayo Clinic in Florida.

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