provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Kevin Ruane told members of The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce that as mayor of Sanibel for 12 years he held budget and water quality issues as top priorities. The Lee County Board of County Commissioners directed him along the same paths for a larger community when he took the position of District 1 commissioners and board chairman last year, Ruane said in the July 14 business luncheon at Casa Ybel Resort’s Thistle Lodge.
Ruane spoke of his accomplishments as Sanibel mayor to strengthen city finances at the chamber meeting. “I’ve promised the citizens of Lee County I’d do the same,” he said. “I’m happy to indicate that we will be going into tax cuts. I’ve advocated for that.”
Despite the complications of navigating COVID-19 vaccination distributions in 2021, the county has had a good year, with property values up 6.9 percent, he said. This has allowed the commissioners to put aside money for quick, temporary housing; food banks; and other community services.
“Human services are something we’re concentrating on,” said Ruane. “We’re getting involved with low-market housing to allow people to live closer to work and not put a strain on the roads…. We need to do a much better job locally.”
His involvement with water quality began as Sanibel mayor when it became an economic issue. In 2016, he was instrumental in forming the largest compact for water quality in the history of the Florida League of Cities with more than 165 mayors participating. In 2014, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Ruane to the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and reappointed him in 2019.
“The water quality, in front of us, is going to be the most important thing we’ll have in the next 10 years,” he told chamber members. “We have tried very hard to work with the mayors. We continue to have in the script the building of an alliance to make sure that we’re heard.”
He pointed to the county’s robust Conservation 20/20 program and initiatives addressing climate control and sea level rise as indications of progress regarding environmental issues. He urged islanders, as part of his constituency covering also Pine Island and western Cape Coral, to call and email him directly with questions and concerns.
“Chair Ruane, as a former resident, is a true friend of the islands and its business community,” said John Lai, chamber president and chief executive officer. “We deeply thank him for taking the time to ‘come back home’ and bring us up to date on how county actions are affecting our community. Thanks also to 911 Restoration for sponsoring the luncheon.”
The next chamber business luncheon takes place on Aug. 11 at Pink Shell Beach Resort on Fort Myers Beach. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Andrew Kelly will speak at the meeting, which is sponsored by Captains for Clean Water and Rapid Response Team LLC.
ABOUT SANIBEL & CAPTIVA ISLANDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting the prosperity of its members and preserving the quality of life of our community. With more than 460 active Chamber members from both islands and businesses from Lee and Collier counties, the Chamber plays a key role in facilitating communication and cooperation between business, residents, and government to enhance the economic health of the islands. The Francis P. Bailey, Jr., Chamber Visitor Center is located at the entrance to Sanibel Island and welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year. VISIT FLORIDA named the visitor center one of 13 official Florida Certified Tourism Information Centers in the state. It is open 365 days a year and provides comprehensive information about things to do, places to visit, and where to stay, shop, and dine. The chamber website sanibel-captiva.org receives more than 1.3 million website visits per year.
For more information about the chamber, visit sanibel-captiva.org or contact Landen Drake, communications and marketing manager, at 239-472-8255 or Landen@sanibel-captiva.org.