In previous posts, I explained my support for Dwight Brock for Clerk of the Circuit Court and Connie Mack for US Senator. In next week’s post, I’ll write about my choice for District 3 County Commissioner (Henning or McDaniel). In this post, I’ll share how I’ll be voting in the rest of the races on my ballot, and why.
Sheriff – Kevin Rambosk (incumbent)
After 21 years as a City of Naples police officer and four years as Naples City Manager,Rambosk joined the Collier County Sheriff’s department in 2003 and served in various positions before being elected Sheriff in 2008. He is now running for his second term.
As a seven-year member of the League of Women Voters of Collier County and it’s Justice Committee, I’ve had several opportunities to hear Sheriff Rambosk speak in both large and small group settings, and I’ve been impressed with his professionalism, calm demeanor and commitment to excellence. I see no reason for a change and have long known Rambosk would have my vote.
Rambosk remains the real deal — a law enforcement officer who leads by example and connects with constituents. He is consistent — stressing the importance of community policing, the public’s crime tips and staff professionalism. He is consistent as well with pushing the envelope of technology to help track crime and keep citizens safe. Our crime rates show it’s all clicking. The Sheriff’s Office continues to be a leader nationally in teamwork with federal authorities to process and deport illegals who are arrested for other offenses. In Southwest Florida these days, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office ranks as a model agency. Rambosk soundly defeated the same GOP opponent, Victor Ortino, four years ago and stands to do the same again.
Property Appraiser – Kevin J. Lilly (Challenger)
I’ve had several opportunities to hear 20+year incumbent Property Appraiser Abe Skinner speak both to the League of Women Voters and in appearances before Greater Naples Leadership classes, but aside from reviewing our annual TRIM notice, I’ve not personally interacted him or his staff.
Lilly worked in the Appraiser’s Office from 1995 to 2011, when he resigned his position as director of tax roll compliance to comply with the state’s resign-to-run law. From 1990 to 1995, he was an Economist in the Ad Valorem Tax Division of the Florida Department of Revenue in Tallahassee. I was impressed with his answers to the League’s questions at the Candidate Forum, and with his bio.
Kevin Lilly sums up his best shot for being Collier County’s property appraiser: He has the firsthand knowledge of the law and technology skills, the integrity and the energy to get the job done into the next era. He also acknowledges the factor of age. He is 44 and the incumbent, Abe Skinner, is 81. Lilly says a change of leadership is inevitable and the timing is right. We concur. He earns our endorsement — just as Skinner earns the community’s appreciation for a job well and fairly done for more than 20 years….
Tax Collector – Larry Ray (Incumbent)
Ray’s professional experience includes 23 years as officer in the US Army and 16 years on the management team of NCH Healthcare System where, according to his website, he oversaw the expansion of services to include the construction of the Shick Heart Center, the Lutgert Cancer Center, the Whitaker Wellness Center and the expansion of North Collier Hospital from 50 beds to over 300 beds, and managed over $150 million of capital improvements.
In 2007, Ray joined the staff of the Collier County Tax Collector as Compliance Officer, responsible for insuring that the various departments and 12 satellite offices of the Tax Collector operated in accordance with accepted accounting procedures and Florida Statutes. He was elected Tax Collector in November 2008; his predecessor Guy Carlton had decided to retire after 28 years in the position.
I’ve had several opportunities to hear both Carlton and Ray speak in large and small group settings, and I’ve been impressed with their knowledge and professionalism. However I’ve had little interaction with the office or staff.
Steve Wagner, Ray’s challenger, spent 21 years with the US Air Force and 15 years as Area Manager of the Tax Collector’s Driver License Division. Both candidates did well in the LWV Candidate Forum, but Ray’s background is stronger, and his management experience with NCH is a solid plus.
Four years ago Ray picked up where his former boss, longtime tax collector Guy Carlton, left off — focusing on customer service. Few people enjoy paying taxes or renewing motor vehicle tags, for example. So the idea is to make it as pleasant and efficient as possible. Ray has managed to do as much or more with fewer employees via smarter use of technology and cross-training. That’s leadership.
Circuit and County Judges
I have no particular insight into the candidates in the four circuit judge and two county judge races on my ballot. From letters to the editor in the Naples Daily News, I learned that incumbent Circuit Judge Joseph Simpson’s Parkinson’s disease is an issue in the Group 26 race. Read more hereand here. I’ve met Joe Foster, candidate in the Group 18 race, on several occasions, including in his challenge to County Commissioner Fred Coyle in the District 2 race in 2010. Joe would be a great County Commissioner and I hope he runs for that position again in 2014.
For the judge races, I’ll be following the Naples Daily News endorsements, which you can read here (circuit judges) and here(county judges).