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County commission candidate pushes for transparency

By ANNE EASKER

STAFF WRITER

Joan Fischer has taken it upon herself to be a voice for transparency in the race for the District 4 seat on the Charlotte County Commission, currently held by Stephen R. Deutsch. “The reason I’m running is because I feel the people are not being told anything that happens until after it happens,” she said. “The people, me and everyone else who’s lived here for a few years, have the right to know what’s going on and have some input. Transparency is important.”

Fischer retired from county government as Assistant Director of Vocational Education and Director of State and Federal programs under the Department of Labor in New York. She is a registered nurse licensed in Florida, and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from State University of New York at Oneonta and a master’s in business administration from Dowling College, Oakdale, New York.

Her experience helping people get the vocational education needed for trade jobs is particularly applicable to Charlotte County, she believes.

“What’s the focus here in Charlotte County? Vocational education,” she said. “Getting these people into school where they can learn a trade instead of go to college.”

However, her primary focus is giving a voice back to the people, who she says are not being told anything until it’s already happening and are not given the opportunity to provide input. As one example, she cited Allegiant’s Sunseeker resort.

“We have wanted development at that location,” she said in a written statement on her priorities. “However, residents did not want to change the nature of our waterfront. A better design could have been negotiated. The Board of County Commissioners held all the cards on this deal, yet they allowed Allegiant to dictate the size, height, and complete scope of the project. Sometimes less is better. Public input provides valuable insight, when invited to the discussion.”

Similarly, she feels there was a lack of taxpayer input into the Murdock Village project.

“Murdock Village land was taken by eminent domain at a one hundred twenty million cost to taxpayers,” she wrote. “We taxpayers paid 56 million to refinance the debt. The balance plus interest will be paid by the same taxpayers.”

If elected to the commission, Fischer says

There are currently no other Democrats in the race.

In November, Joan Fischer will face the winner of the Republican primary, either incumbent Stephen R. Deutsch or newcomer Tom Sullivan, as well as write-in candidate Kevin Randolph.

FISCHER


she’ll work to put residents first. She doesn’t agree with the county limiting the roles of advisory boards, which she believes happened with the Charlotte Harbor Advisory Committee in which members were told they cannot review quasi-judicial matters earlier this week.

“Together with our elected commissioners we must make the best decisions for Charlotte County,” she said. “It cannot happen when commissioners refuse to hear their taxpayers.”

As a Democrat in a largely Republican county, Fischer isn’t intimidated by the force of the opposing party and believes there are many more Democrats in the county than most people realize. One man she spoke to while campaigning in the past said he’d be out of business if he registered as Democrat. “If they own a business, they cannot register Democrat,” she said. “When you have a county that all the administration is one party, there’s a certain feeling about it. You know, let me keep my mouth shut.”

In the past, she says Fischer has volunteered throughout the county as a Charlotte Harbor water monitor for five years, a reading volunteer at the Meadow Park school for three years, and has been the president of the Friends of the Port Charlotte Library for six years. Since 2010, she’s been teaching sewing to children ages 7 to 18 at the Port Charlotte Library.

There are currently no other Democrats in the race. In November, Fischer will face the winner of the Republican primary, either incumbent Stephen R. Deutsch or newcomer Tom Sullivan, as well as write-in candidate Kevin Randolph.

Email: aeasker@sun-herald.com

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