by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
photos/videos by SC Associate Publisher Chuck Larsen
Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane has become a Lee County Commissioner. He won the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3 with 97 percent of the votes.
The Sanibel City Council honored his 14 years of service to the community Tuesday with a golden gavel presented to him by Vice Mayor Mick Denham. The vice mayor called Ruane’s years of service “outstanding” and said his “shoes will be so difficult to fill.”
“It’s been a privilege to work with (him) through the good times and not-so-good times,” said Denham. And Councilwoman Holly Smith said she has seen Ruane’s dedication to everything he does and learned from it.
“In addition to everything that has been said, thank you very much for everything you have done for this community,” said Councilman Richard Johnson. “You leave a strong team behind and I guarantee we will not disappoint.”
Ruane was a councilman since 2007 and council members voted to appoint him as mayor every term since 2010. During his 11 consecutive terms as mayor, he cut Sanibel taxes by 26 percent and reduced the city’s debt by 80 percent. He also boosted the city’s rainy day fund from $2 million to $12 million.
He said no one gave him a “manual” when he became mayor, but Sanibel is a “very sound financial city today.” A budget based on principal was a cornerstone of his campaign. He recognizes the county has taken significant steps towards balancing its budget, but believes innovative policies need to be put in place for the county to rise to the next level of fiscal responsibility.
That is his first goal as a County Commissioner. “Taking care of the taxpayers money and being prudent with it enable us to be as efficient as possible and address so many needs throughout the county,” said Ruane.
He also campaigned on clean water and a healthy environment – items he feels are not to debate, but resources that must be protected. He has rallied Tallahassee and Washington officials to protect Lee County’s water quality and remains committed to continuing that work. He called good water quality “essential” and it goes hand-in-hand with the economy.
“(Good water quality) is essential to tourism, real estate values and the trickle down effect on jobs it impacts,” said Ruane. “Without good water quality we are not going to have a good economy. Without a good economy we are not going to be able to offer the quality of life we all deserve in Lee County.”
Ruane resigned from Sanibel City Council to run for District 1 seat of the Board of County Commissioners. He resignation is effective in December, when the remaining council members will make an interim appointment who will serve until the city’s March election. However, Ruane will continue serving the island as it’s part of his district.
“Sanibel will always hold a near and dear place in my heart,” he said.