I live in Collier County Commission District 3, whose next commissioner will be decided in the August 14 primary. Candidates are incumbent Tom Henning and challenger Bill McDaniel, both Republicans. See “Make an Informed Choice for County Commissioner” for some background.
My choice is based on two things: 1. how well the candidate did or will represent my community (Olde Cypress) before the Board of County Commissioners (BCC), and 2. how well the candidate did or will represent my interests on county-wide matters before the BCC.
With respect to the first, I have no personal experience, but from what I hear from others, our community has been satisfied with Tom Henning as our commissioner. It’s impossible to know how McDaniel would represent our issues, but I did find it curious that his campaign mailer states – twice – “Cypress Woods, Quail Creek and Longshore Lakes can count on Bill McDaniel.” What about Olde Cypress, Saturnia Lakes, the Vineyards, Island Walk, and other communities in District 3?
With respect to the second, I totally agree with Tom Henning’s position on two county issues of great importance to me:
County vs Clerk Lawsuit -- Henning was the only commissioner to oppose the County’s senseless series of lawsuits challenging Clerk of Courts Dwight Brock’s right to audit county expenditures. The state Supreme Court ultimately found in Brock’s favor. What a waste of our taxpayer dollars. Read more...
Impact Fee Moratorium -- An impact fee is a fee imposed by a local government on a new or proposed development project to pay for all or a portion of the costs of providing public services to the new development, such as the construction or needed expansion of roads, street lighting, schools and other offsite capital improvements.
Both the League of Women Voters at its Candidate Forum and the Collier Building Industry Association in its survey by asked the BCC candidates, “Do you support a moratorium on commercial impact fees?”
Henning says no, McDaniel says yes. McDaniel wants to “explore the possibility of placing a temporary moratorium on impact fees” with the goal of attracting new business to the community. In fact, all three challengers (Cosgrove, McDaniel and Nance) support an impact fee moratorium, and all three incumbents (Fiala, Henning and Coletta) oppose it. Henning said impact fee moratoria have been tried in other counties and didn’t achieve the desired result. Fiala pointed out that Collier’s impact fees have already been cut by 50%, and eliminated on buildings two years old or older.
Fiala and Coletta both pointed out that if new development is to take place in an area where infrastructure is needed, someone will wind up paying for it – if not the developer, then the rest of Collier County taxpayers. I agree. Growth should pay for growth.
Naples Daily News Endorsements
The Naples Daily News criticized Henning for having “disappointed too often.” They said, “His blockage of follow-through on the Immokalee Master Plan and his flawed, incomplete filings of state-mandated financial disclosure reports are the latest examples of official conduct that has served to erode the public trust.” I don’t have an informed opinion on the Immokalee Master Plan, and while the disclosure error is disturbing, it doesn’t appear to be egregious enough to cause me to change my vote.
In endorsing McDaniel, the Daily News said he “goes right to what's important — making government more efficient and user- and business-friendly. He speaks from experience in building, real estate, rock-sand mining and county advisory boards.” But Henning supports making government more business-friendly, too, and that came through loud and clear in his Naples Daily News Editorial Board interview. (For McDaniel’s Editorial Board interview, click here.)
Greater Naples Better Government Committee Endorsements
The bi-partisan GNBGC was unable to reach agreement on an endorsement for the District 3 race. In a statement they said, “Although the Board felt both incumbent Tom Henning and his Republican challenger Bill McDaniel to be viable candidates, neither obtained the required 60% vote ... the Board required for endorsement.”
I plan to vote for Tom Henning, for the reasons stated. This choice will be controversial, surprising, and perhaps disappointing to some of my readers. I’d be very interested in any input that might change my mind.
 “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Commission Candidates Sound Off on How to Attract Them,” by Katherine Albers, Naples Daily News, 7/9/12
 See, for example, “Collier commissioner Henning says he wasn't trying to hide anything in his financial disclosures," by Katherine Albers, Naples Daily News, 4/11/12