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What: Stated Business Meeting (1st Wednesday of every Month)
When: March 4, 2020 – Networking begins at 6:00 PM & Meeting begins at 6:30 PM, Networking afterwards.
Where: Cracker Shack Restaurant at 18672 State Road 31, Alva, FL. 33920 (Inside of 31Produce)
Topic: Infrastructure in East Lee County

The East Lee Co. Republicans will host the Honorable Matt Caldwell, former State Rep. (R-FL) on March 4, 2020 at the Cracker Shack Restaurant located inside of 31Produce at 18672 State Road 31, Alva, FL. 33920. The meeting will include a discussion on the new MCORE Toll Road located close to the Lee Co. / Hendry Co. line which will connect Collier County north to Polk County.

Guest Speaker:

  • The Hon. Matt Caldwell, former FL. State Rep. (R-FL)

Matt Caldwell is a member on the Southwest-Central Florida Connector Task Force and will be speaking to East Lee Co. Republicans about the new MCORE Toll Road that will connect north Collier Co. to Polk Co., FL. Visit https://floridamcores.com/southwest-central-florida-connector-task-force/ for more details.

The mission of the Southwest-Central Florida Connector Task Force is to evaluate the Southwest-Central Florida Connector corridor, which extends from Collier County to Polk County. The task force will work in coordination with the Florida Department of Transportation to address the need for the corridor and its potential economic and environmental impacts.

The task force may consider and recommend innovative ways to combine right-of-way acquisition with the acquisition of lands or easements to facilitate environmental mitigation or ecosystem, wildlife habitat or water quality protection or restoration. The task force will specifically address the impacts of construction on panther and other critical wildlife habitat. It will also evaluate wildlife crossing design features.

The task force will summarize the results of its analysis in a final report by October 1, 2020.


Matt Caldwell is a 7th generation Florida native, whose family came to Micanopy in 1826. Matt was born in Gainesville but grew up in Lee County where he met his wife, Yvonne. They live there today, where Yvonne serves as an educator and they raise their beautiful daughter, Ava.

After attending local schools in Lee County, Matt received his Associates Degree from Edison College and his Bachelor of Arts in History from Florida Gulf Coast University. He then began his career as a real estate appraiser with Maxwell, Hendry, Simmons in Fort Myers. He has attained the highest state certification in his field and is qualified as an expert witness in multiple states and federal court. In 2019, Matt become a partner at TM Strategic Consulting, focused on candidate and political consulting.

Prior to running for public office, Matt volunteered for appointment to various governmental committees regarding financial oversight, audits, Everglades restoration, land use and transportation, as well as the constitutional review of the Lee County Charter in 2008.

Matt was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2010-2018, serving on several committees during his tenure, including tax policy, redistricting, insurance, and banking. He also chaired subcommittees and full committees related to agriculture, natural resources and public lands, transportation and infrastructure, local, federal, and military affairs, & oversight of government operations, such as pensions & elections. He is proud to have sponsored, and have the Governor sign into law, dozens of bills, including those related to agriculture, natural resources, public safety, medical care, criminal justice reform, pensions and term limits, among others.

As an avid sportsman with a deep family background in farming, Matt has always been a champion of issues that impact our environment and the agriculture community. He sponsored an expansion of the Everglades Forever Act, which will complete Everglades restoration in the area south of Lake Okeechobee and cosponsored the Legacy Florida Act, which will permanently fund restoration of the greater Everglades. Matt ran unsuccessfully for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2018, falling short by only 6,753 votes out of 8,059,155 cast, the second closest statewide margin in modern Florida history.

Today, Matt continues to dedicate himself to advocating on behalf of the issues that are critical to Florida’s future, as well as returning to his professional career as a real estate appraiser and political consultant.

Candidate Guest Speaker:

  • Kevin Ruane, Sanibel Mayor & Candidate for Lee County Board of County Commissioners

The East Lee Co. Republicans would like to welcome Lee County BoCC Candidate and current Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane as our Guest Candidate Speaker. Come learn all about Mayor Ruane and his background in the private sector as well as his accomplishments as Mayor of Sanibel and President of the Florida League of Mayors. Mayor Ruane has earned the respect of his colleagues across the State as a leader of the clean water movement.


Kevin  Ruane’s  success  as  a  business  leader, elected official and family man uniquely qualify him to usher in an innovative type of leadership for  Lee  County  based  upon  a  record  of accomplishments and results, rather than time served in a political office. After attending undergraduate and graduate school at Pace University in New York where he developed an expertise in both accounting and finance, Kevin immediately began tapping into his natural instincts to climb the private sector ladder. This eventually led him to senior executive positions, including Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, for a subsidiary of a Fortune 100 company.


Kevin has a long record of helping small businesses expand. In 1997 Kevin assumed day-to-day operations  of  his  family’s  accounting  firm  and  in  2005,  he  launched  Castleton  Capital  which provides  financing  solutions  to  small  businesses.  Today,  Kevin’s  company  is  helping entrepreneurs expand and create jobs throughout the United States.
Kevin and his wife, Doreen, moved to Sanibel in 2004 just before Hurricane Charley hit and Kevin immediately became a dedicated community volunteer. Kevin became a member of the Sanibel Hurricane  Damage  Assessment  Team and served as project manager at Gulfside Place Condominiums. There, he led the restoration of 84 hurricane-ravaged homes and negotiated a $13 million settlement for the property owners.

In February 2007, Kevin was appointed to the Sanibel City Council in an interim capacity to fill a vacant seat. In May he was elected to the council seat in a special election and was re-elected four times. In 2009, Kevin’s peers on the council elected him vice mayor. The following year, he was elected mayor and continues to serve in that capacity today.

As Sanibel’s mayor, Kevin has led bold initiatives to strengthen the community. He cut taxes 24% in the last 12 years  and increased the city’s reserves from $2 million to $9 million while cutting the city’s debt by nearly 74%.

Kevin was instrumental in urging elected officials in both Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. to protect  Lee  County’s  water  quality.  When  the  United  States  Congress  was  on  the  verge  of increasing  the  cost  of  flood  insurance  for  communities  in  Lee  County  to  the  point  of  being unaffordable, Kevin led a delegation to Washington and fought successfully for maintenance of the existing rate structure, saving residents millions of dollars in premiums.

In 2013 and 2017 Kevin Ruane was a finalist for the Fort Myers News -Press Public Servant of the Year Award and for 2014, Kevin was awarded the Committee of the Islands’ Citizen of the Year. In 2017 he also received the Florida League of Cities Home Rule Hero Award. In 2016 he was the recipient of the prestigious National Everglades Coalition James D. Webb award and chosen the 2016 Hometown Hero by Boy Scout Pack 1740. Kevin is the President-elect for the Florida League of Mayors.

Kevin Ruane

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