MAYOR’S CORNER…. Bill Barnett

Mayor Bill Barnett

I always have a difficult time writing an article that covers three months because my crystal ball doesn’t show me too many events that are going to happen in June and July but I like the challenge!

I never imagined in 1983 when I sold my Toyota-BMW dealership to Germain that politics would play any part in my life much less an important one. I still think back to the day
when I was approached by a tennis playing friend of mine who told me that I should run for a seat on the Naples City Council.

I remember asking him what it was as I didn’t even know we had a Mayor, and certainly no knowledge about local government. I certainly had made many friends and had
become involved with some local charities which I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for and because our Naples community was so small that we knew almost everyone that lived here.

So being way too young to retire at 43 and learning about what the City Council responsibilities entailed I decided that I would give it a try and see if I could get elected. Little did I know that I needed a platform, a campaign manager, and money to run a campaign. Talk about the meaning of the word “novice”, I was that personified!

Well, I found a great campaign manager who had moved to Naples from Chicago and took me under his wing. His name was Gil Weil and he was as tough as they came on the exterior and a softie on the inside. I didn’t see that inside for quite a while. He had me knocking on doors and no matter how hard I tried to convince him that I knew everyone in Naples he would have none of that.

He taught and I learned and I ended up getting elected by beating an incumbent in 1984. Well one year led to the next and I was fascinated with local politics and especially because Naples was growing and there was literally a new challenge and learning experience every day.

I look back and am so thankful that my fellow Council members became my mentors. Each one of them was retired and had finished their successful careers and were happy to
share their visions and experiences with me. The learning curve from back then to today has never stopped for me. The next thing I knew it was 1987 and in 1988 there would be
another Council election.

I knew I wanted to continue as City politics were getting in my blood and I was elected for another term from 1988 thru 1992. I was elected Mayor for the first time in 1996 thru 2000, termed out in 2000 as Mayor’s could only serve one four year term versus a Council person could serve two consecutive four year terms. I came back in 2004 and served until 2012, a referendum by the voters in 2006 passed overwhelmingly allowing a Mayor to serve two consecutive four year terms, which I did.

In 2012 I ran and was elected to City Council, and ran for Mayor in 2016 and was elected to serve until 2020. Now you are going to ask me why did I just write my complete
political history and I’ll tell you. Somewhere in the last ten years I realized that what had started as a suggestion from a friend had turned in to a career for me. A career that I have
and still enjoy today as much if not more than I did the first time I was elected and that was 35 years ago.

There is still a new challenge every day and the learning curve has never stopped. When you read this article I will have officially announced that I will run for Mayor of the City of Naples in the March City Council election of 2020 for my last eligible term. I hope I have your support!

We have a lot on our Council plates. From the Beach Club Hotel project to continue working with new technology to help keep our traffic moving. There are a myriad of new
projects that will keep our staff busy during the summer months and our City looking beautiful. Yesterday ( March 25th) I met with Senator Rick Scott and about twenty invited
guests of his at Rookery Bay for a roundtable discussion on the red tide, Lake O, blue-green algae, and solutions for all of them.

Among those attending were officials from all over the State of Florida. Senator Scott is going to do his best to get Federal funds released to really put some teeth in projects
that are on the drawing boards but because of lack of funds it’s been talk. I believe he will make a difference for us. If you haven’t visited Baker Park you owe it to yourself to visit
there. Phase one recently opened and it is spectacular, but it’s only the appetizer!

The Grand Opening will be in October or early November, very exciting stuff!
Have safe travels wherever you’re heading and while you’re away we will continue working and making improvements to keep Naples the award winning City that she is.
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