Atterholt, Allers and Veach elected to Town of Fort Myers Beach Council
Voters on Fort Myers Beach chose three new faces for the town council while passing referendum questions to extend the terms of councilmembers from three years to four years and move future elections to November.
Voters elected Local Planning Agency members Dan Allers, Jim Atterholt and Marine Resources Task Force Chair Bill Veach to four-year terms to fill the seats previously held by Mayor Anita Cereceda, Councilmember Joanne Shamp and Councilmember Bruce Butcher. Cereceda was term-limited and Shamp did not seek re-election.
With all of the precincts reporting and 5,918 total votes cast, Atterholt earned the most votes with 1,439 votes, Allers earned 1,270 votes and Veach received 1,094. The terms for Atterholt, Allers and Veach will run through November, 2024.
Butcher lost re-election with 891 votes. He was followed in order by Community Resource Advisory Board member Forrest Critser with 500, former town attorney Robert Burandt with 395, and political newcomer David Drumm with 329.
Both Allers and Atterholt were backed by Thomas Torgerson’s TPI and outraised the other candidates. Allers and Atterholt both came out fervently in support of TPI’s Margaritaville project. Allers has a background in construction and is an ambassador to the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce. Atterholt is a former Indiana state legislator who was chief of staff to former Indiana Governor Mike Pence before Pence went on to be elected Vice President. Veach, who has worked as an engineer, chairs the Marine Resources Task Force, is vice-chair of the Community Resources Advisory Board and has been involved in environmental causes.
Atterholt said “I am both humbled and grateful to the people of Fort Myers Beach for trusting me with the privilege to serve them on the Town Council. I am anxious to get to work.”
“I’m excited that the island turned out and spoke volumes that this is not a place for negative campaigning,” Allers said.
“You have three good-intentioned candidates and I wish them well in their decision-making,” Butcher said.
“I thought on paper I had pretty good credentials,” Burandt said. Burandt, who served the town for 10 years as its attorney, said “I wish the winners well and thank those who voted for me.”
Drumm, who owns Reflow Plumbing, said it appeared the most well-funded campaigns were rewarded. “I really think it was a popularity contest. I don’t think the results represent issues,” Drumm said.
Critser, an ordained minister who has run a cleaning business, is retired from Sears and works at Beach Baptist Church, said he wasn’t happy with the negative tone that part of the campaign took in the form of some mailers that came in late. “I’ll back whoever gets in. I will try to help them.”
The referendums extended the current terms of Vice Mayor Ray Murphy and Councilmember Rexann Hosafros to 2023 past their original expiration of 2022.
Mayor Anita Cereceda pushed for the referendums to encourage voter turnout by having the elections in November, and by giving councilmembers more time to gain experience on the board.
There were 1,873 votes in favor of moving future elections to November and 371 votes against.
There were 1,345 votes in favor of changing the terms from three years to four years, with 889 votes against.