Jere Carrick told members of the Lehigh Community Council last week that incorporation for Lehigh Acres, if desired by the vast majority of residents, is a way off yet.
He said that in January he would like to see a forum for the residents of Lehigh who can ask questions of experts about incorporation.
"Those who have incorporated and those who know about what it means to incorporate as far as costs to run a city, should be asked to come here and address people's concerns," he said.
He said Lehigh voters had twice turned down incorporation for Lehigh, "mainly duly to misinformation." He said he understood that it cost around $60,000 the last time to push incorporation for Lehigh Acres.
The two votes that Carrick is referring to were "straw votes," and they failed miserably, the last being about seven years ago when a question on the ballot simply asked for permission to ask voters if they favored incorporation. It did not ask for voters to vote for or against the act of incorporation.
He said there were reports that Lehigh should be annexed into Fort Myers. Linda Carter, a member of the council, said she believed that is what will happen if Lehigh does not incorporate.
Last month, Rick Anglickis, also a member of the Community Council, said he would release the name of someone who could work toward incorporation, someone he called "a face for incorporation" for Lehigh. But he was not at last week's Community Council meeting.
A representative from the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce said the office has received several phone calls after a story had appeared in The Lehigh Acres Citizen complaining that if Rick Anglickis was involved with incorporation plans, they wanted nothing to do with incorporation. The callers indicated that Anglickis wanted to be the first mayor. Some other members on the council nodded in agreement that Anglickis should not be involved in any incorporation movement during the brief discussion that followed.
However, Carrick said it is better to pursue bringing people to Lehigh who can answer questions about whether taxes would go up or what would happen if the community incorporated. Some people worry that taxes will go up and they are concerned, Carrick said.
"We need an effective educational effort to give to the people of Lehigh about incorporation. But the voting in the past in Lehigh has not been good," he said.
Steve Conti, a new member of the Community Council, who had served on the Lehigh Acres Community Planning Corp. (LACPP) before it merged with the Community Council, said for incorporation to come about, there must be a lot of promotion and information given to the public.
Regarding Rick Anglickis, Mohamad Yasin said, "you're right about the person. We can't worry about that."
That was when member Linda Carter spoke again about possible annexation by Fort Myers.
"If something is not done, we could become more of East Fort Myers," Carter said.
Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann attended the meeting. Later he told The Citizen that before the delegation of local legislators would listen to a group asking that they present such a bill before the legislature to incorporate, there will have to be tremendous support.
At present, there doesn't seem to be any real grass roots support for incorporation, especially since the economy soured in 2008.
Lehigh with a population of around 100,000 or more is governed by Lee County as an unincorporated area whereas other communities have incorporated.
Ruth A. Anglickis, an executive in Lehigh Acres, replied to discussions made at the Community Council meeting with the following comments.
"Rick is not in the forefront of the incorporation movement.
There is a committee forming, but I'm not sure who is on it. The people who are complaining are ignorant and most likely were never involved in prior attempts.
"Many may be from Frank Lohlein's group, who basically don't understand 'the facts.' And, Rick does not want to be mayor - this is old, six years ago junk. I heard Dr. Tucker wants to be mayor. "Incorporation is not about who will be elected, if there will be a city manager, or what. Tell the people of Lehigh to 'get involved' and understand the facts before they demean someone who has done a "ton" of good in this community.
"Sad to hear this, because it means no one is interested in a win/win or to agree to disagree without getting personal. It's unethical in the business world, but I guess not so in politics. Rick is not involved with the politics of incorporation."
Ruth Ann Anglickis is the wife of Rick Anglickis and is vice president of Landex Resorts International Inc. in Lehigh.