Bill Barnett

This is by far the most direct political opinion article I have ever written, and it pertains to the City of Naples upcoming March 19th Election. For those of you who have followed my last three months articles in Life in Naples you know I have been leading up to this final article on the above.

The following for the most part is strictly my opinion, but I will give you the results of the Naples Better Government Committee’s candidate recommendations because they are the only group at this time who have carefully interviewed the candidates individually. There are six candidates running for three City Council seats, and three candidates running for the Mayor’s seat, one of them is the current Mayor. I’m going to keep my remarks brief and to the point. I am well qualified to make these recommend-ations and I say that having served a total of 28 years as an elected official for the City of Naples. Twelve years as a City Council member and sixteen years as the Mayor of the City of Naples.

I have stated in recent articles how important this election is, it’s not just an ordinary election. Although the average citizen of the City of Naples most likely thinks that our City Government has been running smoothly these last four years nothing could be farther from the truth. We have lost over 200 employees, many of them key employees from a City Manager on down the line and it’s because of the lack of leadership from the top, the mayor. I have asked you the reader to please do your homework carefully and don’t believe what you read on the campaign literature that is in your e-mail or your mailbox on a daily basis. They make it sound great, but unfortunately a lot is just plain misinformation. Make it a point to check each candidate out and if you have a chance watch them and listen to them on a public forum.

I will start with the three Mayoral candidates. Two of them, the current Mayor Teresa Heitmann and Ted Blankenship, a current first term Council member are partially responsible for the micromanagement that has besieged this current council causing loss of employees and mass confusion dealing with important issues that haven’t been resolved.

Ms. Heitmann’s campaign literature states she is running on her record and I’m sorry to say that’s not the case.

Mr. Blankenship, by his own words, states, “Council should stop micromanaging projects that our City staff are qualified to run and ensure we have the right project management tools in place.” He states this and yet he is a member of that council.

The third candidate is Gary Price. He is a long-time resident of the City of Naples and has vast experience having served on various City boards from our Planning Advisory Board to being a Naples City Council member, vice mayor and being a valuable member of our pension boards and others. He has done it all and done it well. I have had the honor of serving with him and he is a true leader and worthy of your vote for Mayor of our City.

Three of the City Council Candidates have teamed up with Gary Price because they share in his goals and beliefs, yet they are all strong individual thinkers. I will guarantee you they won’t agree with each other on every vote but will do their own research and make their own decisions. I’m sure by now you have seen all of their campaign literature, and I will vouch for them individually as outstanding community grass root leaders who have backgrounds that excel in the work they have done and still do for our City of Naples. I could write positive pages on each of them but see for yourselves as you do your research.

They are Bill Kramer, former football coach of Naples High School, who holds his share of Master’s degrees and has a stellar reputation in not only our City but Collier County as well. He is a true motivator and leader.

Berne Barton, who was raised in the City of Naples and whose parents were and still are community leaders. He owns his own insurance agency and is all about representing the City he grew up in. He understands the needs of the City of Naples and knows its citizens.

Tony Perez-Benitoa a local attorney and mediator with an outstanding reputation in our local community. In addition to his law practice Tony has worked with the youth in our community by coaching many sports at Naples High School.

The other three City Council Candidates are Garey Cooper, a local realtor, Nick Del Rosso, a local resident for about two years, and Linda Penniman, a former City Council Member and for years very involved in the Naples community. Both Mr. Cooper and Mr. Del Rosso deserve kudos for throwing their hats in the ring, but would probably be better off serving on some of the City’s advisory boards and familiarizing themselves with key issues that are happening in the City.

I have known and served with Linda Penniman and her heart is in the right place for wanting to run for City Council, and I can relate to her, but it would be like me running for Mayor again, age is a factor. Her issues as she sees them in my opinion have either been done or just aren’t doable.

The Naples Better Government Committee who serves as An Informed Voice for the Voters in Collier County for the last 30 years, have endorsed Gary Price, Bill Kramer, Tony Perez-Benitoa & Berne Barton. I concur!

Please do your homework & research and vote on March 19th!


Bill Barnett, Former Mayor
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