CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki and Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson got the chance to meet President Obama at the US Conference of Mayors. They were among 273 mayors from across the country who traveled to Washington DC for the three-day meeting.
Veteran Mayor Randy Henderson knew the routine and showed freshman Mayor Marni Sawicki the ropes. While meeting the President and mayors from across America is impressive, the most important aspect of this trip was building a political bridge between the mayors of Southwest Florida's two largest cities.
WINK News reporter Michael Francis: "Mayor, you've been mayor for less than two months… and you go to the White House for an event with the President. Were you just awestruck?"
Mayor Marni Sawicki -City of Cape Coral: "I think the coolest part was I put my daughter and my son on facetime and they got to hear the President when I was sitting there, and that was the coolest part of that…The trip for me was about reaching out to the other mayors…and with Randy being there...him and I really got a chance to get to know each other…I think you'll see some differences for Fort Myers and Cape Coral on things we're planning to work together on, so that was really good."
Mayor Randy Henderson: "It gives us an opportunity to share information; we're the two largest cities in the county…so we can talk more regionally.
Michael Francis: "Tell me how important it was for you and Mayor Sawicki to spend personal time together, and what you think the byproduct of that bond will be."
Mayor Henderson: "What was cool about it Mike, was we got to share our common vision, and I would say we are 99 percent on the same page."
Michael Francis: "What benefit does a trip like this have for the City of Cape Coral and you as mayor?"
Mayor Sawicki: "I didn't know we didn't have a federal lobbyist. Listening to the other cities that are half our size, talk about meeting with their federal lobbyist, the grant money that is available, that they are getting that we're not…astounded me. There was no money in the Cape Coral budget to pay for Mayor Sawicki's trip to Washington."
She felt the trip was so important to the city, she paid for it out of her own pocket. Mayor Sawicki will ask council for a budget item to pay for next year's trip, and begin the discussion on hiring a lobbyist in Washington to help Cape Coral find those federal dollars.