Saturday, August 18, 2018

A few last words before voting

August 28, 2018
Primary Elections in Florida
I published my tentative voting decisions a few weeks ago, but have been monitoring the news daily. So far, I’m still comfortable with all but one of them: the Democrat I would vote for for Governor, which I’ll discuss below.

In this post, I’ll share links to the Naples Daily News’ endorsements, which I always consider before voting in local elections because (1) I respect the Editorial Board’s apparent open-mindedness in considering all the candidates; (2) they hold one-on-one interviews with each of the candidates; and (3) at least two members (Allen Bartlett and Brent Batten) have the historical knowledge and perspective needed to evaluate and place campaign trail claims and accusations in context. I am pleased that in these elections, there is not a single case in which their endorsements differ from my tentative choices.

Next, I’ll share some recent articles you might want to consider before casting your vote. Since I have not written about the local referenda (Marco Island Ambulance, North Naples Fire Fee, and Immokalee Fire Fee), I’ve included articles and pro/con commentaries about each.

Finally, I’ll share my current thinking about the Democratic gubernatorial race.

The Naples Daily News endorsements
  • For State Attorney: Amira Fox — “It should speak volumes to voters that [retiring incumbent Steve] Russell, a virtually unchallenged fixture as state attorney for 15 years, chose Fox in 2014 as chief assistant.“
  • For County Commissioner District 2: Andy Solis — “For heightening Collier’s efforts to locally address mental health-related issues that the state has shortchanged, Solis earns the nod over Brad Schiffer, a candidate who is laser-focused on growth-related and quality of life issues.”
  • For County Commissioner District 4: Penny Taylor — “Taylor has a superior grasp of issues and potential solutions facing both her district and Collier County as a whole, making her the clear choice for Republican voters in District 4.”
  • For Clerk of Courts: Crystal Kinzel —  "As chief deputy clerk since 2016 and the office’s finance director before that, no one is more qualified to step in now than Kinzel.”
  • For School Board District 3: Jen Mitchell — “Mitchell comes well-prepared to step into the role of a board member and is so well-versed in issues facing the district that it’s almost as if she is an incumbent facing re-election.”
  • The institutional knowledge Roy Terry brings to the Collier County School Board makes him an exceptional choice for re-election.... Terry has demonstrated a steady hand as board chairman the past two years and importantly can ensure there’s stability on the board after four years of recurring divisiveness.
  • On Marco Island Ambulance Referendum: Vote NO — “The unknown city manager and November election should give Marco voters pause. We … urge city leaders to then immediately resume negotiations with Collier officials to direct additional tax dollars toward an enhanced EMS presence on Marco Island.”
  • On North Collier Fire Fee Referendum: Vote NO — “We recommend rejecting the referendum based on its rushed timing, insufficient dialogue, regressive nature of the proposed fee and a failure so far to convince citizens that the agency has a financial fire to extinguish.”
  • On Immokalee Fire Fee Referendum: Vote NO — “Before enacting a new fee, today’s chiefs and elected Immokalee fire board must show they are better stewards of taxpayer dollars than was demonstrated through bad purchases in the past.”

Note: The Daily News does not endorse in judicial races because candidates can’t discuss issues, only their backgrounds. It also is not endorsing in this year’s party primaries but will evaluate the winners prior to the general election. Read about their endorsement process here.

News articles of interest
  • Governor race
    • An anomaly or a tide turning? Conventional wisdom shifting as primary election nears. New public opinion polls released this week showed Putnam just two points behind DeSantis, within the margin of error. Florida Phoenix, 8/16/18
    • An overview of Florida's GOP gubernatorial race between Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis. "Trump tweeted his support of an undistinguished Congressman ... and the Republican faithful salivated on cue." Naples Daily News, 8/17/18
    • Palm Beach billionaire’s past legal fights haunt bid for governor. Liked by some and loathed by others, Jeff Greene is invariably described as a headstrong micromanager, a self-assured self-made man who doesn’t hesitate to use the courts and his $3.3 billion net worth to get his way. Politico Florida, 8/17/18
  • Attorney General race
    • Look how negative the GOP race for Florida attorney general has become. In the increasingly bitter primary, Ashley Moody and Frank White have both put out new attack ads against each other – Moody using Florida sheriffs to question White's qualifications, and White continuing his attacks on Moody for having sued Donald Trump over a Tampa real estate deal. Tampa Bay Times, 8/8/18
    • Dems vow to ‘fight’ if elected attorney general. Shaw and Torrens have taken different approaches to the campaign, while sharing stances on issues ranging from opioid manufacturers to their opposition to the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law. Gainesville Sun, 8/14/18
  • State Attorney race
    • Emails outline concerns about state attorney candidate Chris Crowley's past job performance. Crowley was fired in 2014 as an assistant state attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit. Naples Daily News, 8/2/18
    • State Attorney candidate Chris Crowley turns himself in, accused of violating campaign laws. He faces third-degree felony charges. Naples Daily News, 8/6/18
  • BCC District 2 race
  • BCC District 4 race
  • Clerk of Courts race
    • Two GOP candidates square off to replace Dwight Brock as Collier clerk, comptroller. Naples Daily News, 8/5/18
  • School Board District 5 race
    • School Board candidate Mary Ellen Cash was fired from Collier district in 2012; job performance, behavior cited. Cash said she was not fired and had left the district in 2013. Naples Daily News, 7/25/18
  • Marco Island Ambulance referendum (website)
    • Commentary: One of the most consequential decisions in our city’s history. There are five reasons to vote “yes,” and five reasons to vote “no.” You decide. By Larry Honig, Marco Island City Council member, via Naples Daily News, 7/14/18
    • Editorial: The known and unknown questions on Marco referendum. Voters won’t know before election day if they will get a reduction in county property taxes if they agree to pay higher city taxes to launch their own ambulance service. Naples Daily News, 7/24/18
    • Commentary: Marco Island’s quest for ambulance transport. It is imperative that Marco Island residents understand the full concept of our quest to have our own license to transport patients. By Bob Brown, Marco Island Councilman, via Naples Daily News, 8/15/18
    • Commentary: Tober cites reasons Collier EMS serves Marco well. It doesn’t appear to be motivated by sound medical practices, and may be unsafe. By Robert B. Tober, M.D., Medical director, Collier County Emergency Medical Services, via Naples Daily News, 8/16/18
  • North Naples Fire Fee referendum (website)
    • Brent Batten: Retirees rise up against fire fee. The proposal would lower the property tax and in its place institute a fire assessment fee, resulting in a lower bill for some but a higher bill for others. Naples Daily News, 7/14/17
    • Commentary: Learning more about North Collier fire fee referendum. During the last 10 years, demand for services has increased by more than 62 percent. However, the district’s taxable revenue is nearly the same as it was in 2007. By Norman Feder, Vice Chairman, North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District Board of Commissioners, via Naples Daily News, 7/22/18
    • Commentary: Much more to learn about North Collier fire fee referendum. “Unfair, regressive, arbitrary and subjective” perfectly describes the proposed new “assessment.” Stephen Demidovich, Chairman, No Blank Check PAC, via Naples Daily News, 7/29/18
    • Commentary: Commitment to public safety behind fire fee proposal. If there isn’t additional funding through the non-ad valorem assessment fee, the level of fire and rescue services will be negatively impacted. By James M. Cunningham, Fire chief, North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District, via Naples Daily News, 8/17/18
  • Immokalee Fire Fee referendum (website)
    • Brent Batten: Immokalee fire fee faces foes in churches, businesses. Unlike the proposed change in the North Naples Fire fee, the Immokalee proposal would make no exemptions. Naples Daily News, 7/26/18
    • Brent Batten: Governments walk a fine line between advocacy and information. The Immokalee fire district’s website paints a bleak picture of the future if the addition of a fire service fee does not pass, including laying off firefighters and closing a station. Naples Daily News, 7/28/18

My thinking about the Democratic candidates for governor

I had tentatively decided to support Jeff Greene, writing that “I like his rags-to-riches story as well as his positions on the issues I care about. But it’s his personal wealth that gets him my vote. The Florida governor’s race is going to be one of the most expensive in the country, and as much as I wish it weren’t necessary, Greene is willing and able to spend what it takes to win, and to help other Democrats up and down the ticket.”

But a recent Politico Florida article — Palm Beach billionaire’s past legal fights haunt bid for governor) — has me questioning Greene’s character. If I were to change my mind, I would likely vote for Philip Levine. (See In Florida governor’s race, are Jeff Greene and Phil Levine one in the same?, Tampa Bay Times, 7/30/18.) But for now, the jury's still out.

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If you have any questions about when, where or what to bring with you to vote, don’t hesitate to call the Collier Supervisor of Elections Office at 239-252-VOTE, or visit their website at www.colliervotes.com. Similarly, if you are a Vote-By-Mail voter, be sure to confirm that your ballot was/is received and counted by calling the Supervisor of Elections or checking the website.

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