Together, new city of Sanibel manager Dana Souza and Mayor Holly Smith painted a picture of citizen involvement and government fiscal responsibility while addressing the Dec. 9 business luncheon meeting of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, held at The Community House.

 

“Your city is in excellent financial shape, and you have excellent leadership that adheres to the Sanibel Plan,” Souza assured the gathering. “My vision for the city is your vision, the Sanibel vision, the Sanibel Plan.”

 

Souza took office on Nov. 16 on the heels of Judie Zimomra’s retirement after 20 years of service. He acknowledged he has big shoes to fill. “Well, I have pretty big feet,” he quipped.

 

Mayor Smith introduced Souza after outlining city council priorities in upcoming months, including water quality, fiscal responsibility, the senior center, new police facilities, stormwater runoff, and local decision-making legislation.

 

Ryan Orgera, outgoing executive director of SCCF, which sponsored December’s meeting, addressed current water quality issues earlier in the meeting. “We should be proud we have the hardest working mayor in the country,” he said in that regard, a declaration met with a standing ovation.

 

In addressing local decision-making, the mayor expressed the council’s concerns that the city should be making decisions about the unique Sanibel community, and that privilege is getting diminished by state and federal-level governments.

 

“We need grassroots advocacy, and the chamber will be a part of that as well,” she said. The mayor also congratulated the chamber for “the best Luminary since I moved to the island.”

 

Souza, too, directly addressed chamber members with his promise: “I assure you I will make certain that city hall will be citizen-centric and business-centric.” He emphasized his accessibility to the community, saying “I want us to have excellent and friendly relationships. From that foundation we’ll get to where we can deal with issues when we disagree.”

 

“We are so blessed to enjoy the close, symbiotic relationship between city government and the chamber,” said John Lai, chamber president and chief executive officer. “Many thanks to Dana and Holly for involving us in what’s going on and coming up at city hall.”

 

Upcoming business luncheons include Jan. 12 at Sundial Beach Resort with speaker Ben Siegel, executive director at Southwest Florida International Airport, sponsored by Adventures in Paradise; and Feb. 9, a water quality policy and project update sponsored by Bailey’s and featuring Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation, and Chauncey Goss, board chair of the South Florida Water Management District.

 

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 Collins, communications and marketing manager, at 239-472-8255 or Landen@sanibel-captiva.org.