It’s hard for me to believe that the winter season is over in Naples and our winter residents and visitors have departed to summer climates. Of course, it was frantic, with traffic being the number one complaint and no matter where you’re from, the City of Naples and a good part of the county are the main culprits. As a local, I don’t pay any attention to it, I’ve lived here long enough to have gotten used to it and it really doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m smart enough to know I have to allow X amount of time before I leave for an appointment across town and my rule of thumb is try and get there early. Believe it or not it does happen on rare occasions but I’m never late unless there was an accident holding traffic up. The same goes for restaurants that we like; we make our reservations well in advance so there are no issues, but over the years we prefer to dine out a lot less often during the season. The good news about this season was we had a lot more rain and cool weather than normal and our businesses and restaurants thrived successfully! Last night we dined at one of, if not our favorite, steak houses in Naples, Andre’s. I have to say it was the first time I’ve ever heard the bartender say to me he will be glad when the season is totally over. I laughed at him and reminded him of the long summer months when there were empty tables galore, and he would wish to have some of those folks back. His response was I was right, but right now he and the staff are just plain tired. You will find this true at most of the restaurants in Naples, especially after a successful winter.

Now, after writing for months in succession about our upcoming City election in March and about the candidates and their qualifications (my opinion always) and how nasty it was, it’s finally over. In each article I consistently asked the voters to please do their homework before making a selection. I think that the mailers that were sent out bad mouthing some candidates and praising others totally confused a lot of voters. There was an over abundance of lies not just about the candidates but also about issues that were nonexistent. The biggest rumor of all which absolutely drove me crazy was the “Over-development going on in Naples and we were on our way to becoming another Miami”. One mayoral candidate pushed this issue absolutely to the max and her opponent tried their best to state the facts that it was a false statement. The mailers did both -spreading any and every untruth imaginable, and every day there were at least three or four of them in our mailbox. The real truth of the results of this election was there were three mayoral candidates and one of them shouldn’t have been in the race. He was in his first term as a City Council Member and had no prior political experience. Many citizens asked him not to run and suggested he finish his term and rerun for his Council seat, which I think he would have had tremendous support and could have won the seat.

But he, unfortunately, got bad advice from a wealthy individual who convinced him he could win. He didn’t but took enough votes to make the final outcome between the other two candidates the closest a Naples election has ever been, Teresa Heitmann won over Gary Price by a mere 22 votes! We are supposed to be a first class City but the behavior by some of our residents was anything but first class and they should be ashamed of themselves, but they don’t know any better so they won’t be. Three new Council members were elected: Former Naples High School Coach Bill Kramer, longtime City of Naples resident Berne Barton, and Linda Penniman, who previously served on City Council. I know they will do a great job for us, and I am happy for them. For those of you that care, there is no over-development in the City of Naples, period. I’ve been listening to that Miami threat for at least 20 plus years. It is a great scare tactic that happens during every election and the sad thing is that people believe it.

I’m looking forward to a quiet summer in Naples and am excited about our annual trip to the outskirts of Buffalo. It will be nice to visit the farm that’s close to us and see just how much fresh corn I can consume!

Be safe and enjoy your summer!

Bill Barnett, Former Mayor
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