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League of Women Voters hosting 'meet and greet' with congressional candidates

March 18, 2014
By MCKENZIE CASSIDY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Sanibel's League of Women Voters has organized a night for islanders to meet the seven candidates for Southwest Florida's District 19 congressional seat on April 3.

Former Congressman Trey Radel resigned from his post on Jan. 27 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession and a large group of interested candidates subsequently filed to compete in the April 22 special primary and June 24 special general election.

The league has invited all qualified candidates to the event at the Sanibel Community House on Thursday, April 3 at 7 p.m.

Article Photos

The Sanibel Community House. MCKENZIE CASSIDY.

"This is referred to as a 'meet and greet,' which is different than a debate or forum," said Dick Calkins, voter service chairman for the league. "We thought with so many people this is the only way you can do it."

Rather than scheduling a traditional debate, which would take too long with seven candidates, the Sanibel Community House's auditorium will be organized with different candidate stations. Each candidate will make a short presentation and then islanders will be able to circulate, shake hands, get campaign information, and ask specific questions.

Each candidate -- Curt Clawson, Michael Dreikorn, Paige Kreegel, Roy Netherwood, Tom Rossano, April Freeman, and Lizbeth Benacquisto -- have agreed to attend the event, but Benacquisto will be sending a staff member to represent her because she will be in Tallahassee.

Fact Box

To Go:

What: District 19 congressional candidate "meet and greet" hosted by Sanibel's League of Women Voters

When: Thursday, April 3 at 7 p.m.

Where: The Sanibel Community House at 2173 Periwinkle Way

Details: For more information, visit or

And, of course, the list of expected candidates may change before the night of the event.

Calkins explained that the island chapter of the League of Women Voters is only four-years-old and wants to host more meet and greets, forums, and debates in future local and state elections. He said the league wants to make sure all islanders know their candidates before the special election.

"It's probably one of the bigger events we've had on the island," said Calkins. "One of these people is going to be our congressman and that's an important decision."

The League of Women Voters doesn't endorse specific candidates and the event is bipartisan.

For more information on the organization, visit The Sanibel Community House is located at 2173 Periwinkle Way and for more information visit



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