Commercial real estate developer and investor Dan Creighton says he’s done projects in 100 some counties and municipalities across 11 states. And few civic leaders in those areas impressed him as much as the one in his backyard did: Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello.
“He always told his team he didn’t want to hear all the reasons why a project couldn’t work,” says Creighton, founder and partner of Creighton Construction & Development. “He wanted to hear why it could work and how the city was going to make that happen.”
Coviello took that can-do attitude to the streets, where, say several area business leaders, he was the guy who showed up at every ribbon cutting, grand opening and civic event. Coviello died Jan. 13. He was 65.
Elected in November 2017, Coviello died of “an unexpected medical incident,” according to a City of Cape Coral statement. No other information was released as to who, or how a replacement mayor will fill the position.
“He was genuine, sincere and really likeable,” Creighton says. “He will be missed.”
Several Lee County leaders commented on Coviello on social media, including Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno. “Mayor Coviello served as a pillar to the City of Cape Coral and was a shining example of putting service before self,” Marceno wrote in a Facebook post.
A native of Long Island, N.Y., Coviello moved to Cape Coral in 2000, according to his mayoral campaign biography. He worked in human resources and payroll and benefits, and was involved in the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, where he and his wife Diane’s two sons, Ross and Alex, are graduates. He was also involved in youth football, coaching in Pop Warner and at Cape Coral High School.
Through work, Coviello met Joe Mazurkiewicz, another area businessman and Cape Coral mayor from 1983 to 1993. The pair became friends and talked regularly about fast-growing Cape Coral, Mazurkiewicz says. One example: The population of the city has risen 166% since 1990, from 75,000 people to nearly 200,000 by 2020, according to U.S Census data.
Mazurkiewicz counseled Coviello on his mayoral campaign, but says his friend didn’t need much of a push to show his passion for the city, and the businesses that occupy it. “Not just business, but all kinds of functions,” Mazurkiewicz says. “He was always there. He was a jovial guy. He was that kind of guy you just really wanted to be around.”
Creighton says Coviello’s support wasn’t just for local businesses. Coviello also spent time courting and talking to regional and national companies, the type of retailers and businesses Cape Coral needs to support its booming population. “To the very last day,” Creighton says, “his passion for Cape Coral was solid as a rock.”