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Who’s Running for Collier County Commissioner in District 1?

Are you wondering who’s running for Collier County Commissioner in District 1?

Collier County voters live in one of five County Commission districts, numbered one through five. Each district’s residents elect a Commissioner who lives in that district. Find your district here.

Collier County District Map

Commissioners are elected in partisan, single-district elections by the voters in their district, and effective with the 2018 elections, they are limited to three consecutive terms. As a group, they are known as the Board of County Commissioners.

Commissioners for Districts 1, 3 and 5 are elected in presidential-election years; the District 2 and 4 seats are on the ballot during the midterm years.

Only registered members of a party may vote in that party’s primary elections because Florida is a closed primary state. See my post, Party Affiliation and Florida as a Closed Primary State.

District 3 incumbent Commissioner Burt Saunders, a Republican, was unchallenged and will be automatically reelected for another term.

In my next post, I will look at the candidates running in District 5.

In this post, I look at the candidates running in District 1.

Collier County Commissioner Candidates

Incumbent District 1 Commissioner Donna Fiala, a Republican, chose not to run for another term. There are four candidates running for the open seat: Republicans Mark Batchelor, William Douglass and Rick LoCastro, and Democrat John Jenkins.

Registered Republicans who live in the District may vote in the closed primary. The winner will face Mr. Jenkins in November.

Developing:
Collier County commission candidate faces
cocaine possession charge, calls to quit.
Naples Daily News, 8/3/20

Please see How I Research Candidates and 6 Things to Consider When Evaluating Candidates for how I approach writing these posts. I also asked the candidates to complete a questionnaire and included edited excerpts from their responses as well as links to the complete documents below.

After reviewing what I learned about each candidate, I close with a look at the money that is financing the campaigns, links to online candidate forums, and suggested next steps.


Mark Batchelor

Batchelor

According to his website, Mark Batchelor is “A true Conservative that will fight for lower taxes and protect your Civil Rights!”

Batchelor moved to Collier County full time in 2005. He and his wife live in Lely Country Club. They have five adult children and twelve grandchildren. One daughter and son-in-law live in Naples, where their children attend public schools.

A veteran of the United States Air Force with a business degree from Drexel University, Bachelor’s 30-year business career included working for technical companies including Xerox, Océ Business Systems, and Topcall Corporation. From 2010 until his retirement earlier this year, he was a Property Manager, which he says gave him “an-ear-on-the-ground” perspective of homeowner concerns.”

Batchelor’s community involvement includes service as president of the board of Fairway Villas Homeowners Association, director of Lely Country Club Homeowners Association, and member of Knights of Columbus, East Naples Civic Association, Captains of Clean Water, the NRA, and the American Legion.

He says his “primary concern is to ensure future growth maintains the critical balance of the county’s dynamic ecosystem and the external factors that affect it, while creating a vibrant venue for establishing better communities.” His website mentions a “common goal” which includes Clean Water; Improve the Look of the Trail; Improve Quality of Businesses; Create Job Opportunities; Fight Against Any Tax Increases; and Protect Our Civil Liberties.

Candidate questionnaire responses

What diversity of perspective, attributes, knowledge or skills would you bring to the office that differentiates you or that the other candidates don’t have?

Not only a veteran, I have over 30 years of business experience working for international companies such as Xerox, dealing with profit/loss, personnel, project management, contracts, legal issues, buying commercial property. I’m not a one-dimensional candidate.

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

  1. “Impact Fees too High;”
  2. “Buying of land by the county is misusing taxpayers money;” and
  3. “Upgrade the look of the Trail and Collier Blvd. from Naples to Marco.”

A current public policy position he said he disagrees with is “Conservation Collier Tax — The voters approved a ballot referendum, to tax themselves .25 mil in ad valorem collections for funding the acquisition and management of conservation lands.” (Read more…)

The most important thing voters should know about him is that “The only candidate that states his strong conservative values, such as against tax increases and I am against any beach restrictions, these policies violate our civil liberties.”

Endorsements

Batchelor’s website shows endorsements from Dr. Harry Moreau (NCH), Denise M. Morrison (Retired CEO – Campbell Soup Co.), Fallen Officers, and Dominick Viggiano (Retiree – social services sector).

Press Coverage

In His Own Words


William Douglass

Douglass

William Douglass’s website says he is “a lifelong Republican.” He grew up in a working class family in Ohio and in 1984, moved to Collier County to manage a local restaurant. In 1987, he completed his fire service training and in 2017, after 30 years of service, retired as a lieutenant with the Greater Naples Fire District.

He also owned and operated Margaritas and More from 2004 – 2015, which “allowed him to have the flexibility and financial means to assist his family and deal with the special needs of his son.”

Douglass’s community involvement includes past service as president of Florida Jaycees, Naples Jaycees and Lely Country Club Property Owner Association, and membership in the East Naples Civic Association, Marco Island Chamber of Commerce and BEONE (formally known as East Naples Merchant Association).

His website says “he will employ fiscal, common sense leadership; protect clean water, air, and pristine coastlines; and work full-time as a result-oriented commissioner.”

It lists three ways he will “Work for You”: To address road congestion and improve traffic flow; To preserve our environment and improve your quality of life; and To expand business and enlarge Collier’s tax base.

Candidate questionnaire responses

What diversity of perspective, attributes, knowledge or skills would you bring to the office that differentiates you or that the other candidates don’t have?

I have 35 years of local leadership experience, perspective, knowledge, and understanding of this very community. I have had one job for 30 years, right here in this community. No other candidate has lived the history of economic downturns, building moratorium, furloughs, downsizing, business closures etc.

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

  1. Protect clean water, air, pristine coastlines and maintain our quality of life;
  2. Advocate for workforce, senior and veteran housing; and
  3. Attract and retain businesses to expand our tax base and keep our taxes low.

A current public policy position he said he disagrees with is “Stormwater Utility Program. In 2017 and 18, the County attempted to create a stormwater utility program. I fully support any improvements made to improve our water quality. However, I cannot support passing a fee onto the residents, based on their “impervious” surface of their property.” (Read more…)

The most important thing voters should know about him is that “For the past 35 years, I have lived in Collier County and have already built relationships, earned respect and have a proven record of results.”

Endorsements

Douglass’s website shows endorsements from Smart Growth for SW Florida, a PAC “dedicated to trying to change this antiquated and fiscally reckless approach to land use;” incumbent Commissioner Donna Fiala; Dr. Robert. B. Tober; Leo Davis (Retired Chief of Operations – East Naples Fire Department); Bob Schank (former Chief – East Naples Fire Control and Rescue District); Bill Moss (former City Manager – City of Naples); Jeff Page (Chairman – Greater Naples Fire District); Adam Peterson (Teacher/Coach – Lely High School); Rob Popoff (former Marco Island City Council Chairman); Dr. Lisa McGarity (President – Lely Golf Estates HOA); Charlie Cottiers (Greater Naples Fire Commissioner); and numerous professional firefighters associations.

Press Coverage

In His Own Words


Rick LoCastro

LoCastro

According to his website, Rick LoCastro is running for this position “because we need prepared leaders now more than ever.”

LoCastro is a retired Air Force colonel who now runs a consulting business. His website does not mention his family or life before the Air Force, other than a photo of him with two adult children, and another with his mother.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and has three Master of Science degrees, including one in Public Administration & Policy from Central Michigan University.

After 24 years in service with the Air Force, he retired as a Colonel in 2012. Upon retirement, he says he was “immediately recruited” to Naples for a hospital executive position and moved to Marco Island. He was Chief Operating Officer – Physicians Regional Medical Center – Collier Blvd from 2012 – 2015 and Senior Director of Development & Senior Military Advisor – Avow Hospice Naples in 2017.

Today, he is president and founder of RJL Consulting Team, which I could learn nothing about through a Google search. He is also a member of the Florida Advisory Committee to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and remains a member of the Western Florida Chapter of American College of Healthcare Executives, where he served on the Board from 2014 to 2017.

In addition, a Google search found that he is also Executive Director of Development for Empowerment Enterprises, Ltd., a Washington, D.C., based government relations and advocacy firm.

Locally, he has served on the Board of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, and is a graduate of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce Leadership Collier program.

LoCastro’s website tagline is “Experienced. Veteran. Leadership.” His website doesn’t have an Issues page, but mentions a number of “focus areas,” including: Workforce housing; Real estate and land management; County finances and resources; and Environmental protection.

Candidate questionnaire responses

What diversity of perspective, attributes, knowledge or skills would you bring to the office that differentiates you or that the other candidates don’t have?

My 24-year Air Force officer leadership, as well as my business, healthcare, and local community experience. As a former military base commander and local healthcare leader, I’ve dealt with large-scale housing and commercial development, worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency, and addressed Red Tide aggressively. As the former Chief Operating Officer for Physicians Regional Medical Center and an Executive at Avow Hospice, I’ve been on the front lines of necessitating workforce housing in Collier County.

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

  1. Bring experience & qualifications to the District 1 seat for decisive decision making;
  2. Properly manage growth (to include workforce housing) while protecting the environment; and
  3. Fiscal & budget discipline.

A current public policy position he said he disagrees with is “improperly managed design, growth, approval of development.”

The most important thing voters should know about him is that “If you’re trying to jumpstart the economy especially after COVID-19 as a County Commissioner, it’s important to know how the economy works and having been a leader in all aspects of it.”

Endorsements

LoCastro was endorsed by the Naples Better Government Committee; Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR); Vann Ellison – President and CEO – St. Matthew’s House; Phil Wood – CEO – John R. Wood Properties; Dan Lavender – President and CEO – Moorings Park; Jared Grifoni – Vice Chairman, Marco Island City Council; Vicki Tracy – COO, Gulf Coast International Properties; Carvelli & Serravalle Families – Owners of Snook Inn, Marco Prime, Oyster Society, & Davinci’s; Dale & Marie Mullin – President, Wounded Warriors of Collier County; Jane Watt – Founder & Board Chair, Marco Island Academy; Sandra Lee Buxton – Owner Life in Naples Magazine; Kelly Lichter – President & Founder, Mason Classical Academy Naples.

Press Coverage

In His Own Words


The Money

Here is what the candidates reported in the most recent campaign finance filings (downloaded 8/5/20):

Online Candidate Forums

I highly recommend that you watch at least one of the recorded candidate forums. I learned a lot from observing how the candidates responded to questions: thoughtfully or in sound bites; rambling or concise; good grammar or bad. A forum is a good way to see multiple candidates at once. Be mindful of the political- or issue-orientation of the event hosts, and consider how that might influence both the questions and the responses.

Next Steps

If you are a registered Republican in Commission District 1, it’s time to decide who to vote for in your party’s closed primary.

Review the candidates’ websites and narrow down the possibilities based on what’s most important to you. Then do more research, using the links and references included in this post.

If you have questions, reach out to the candidates directly via the “contact” page/form on their website. If they don’t respond to your satisfaction when they’re running for office, how responsive will they be if elected?

When you’ve done enough research to feel confident about your decisions, you are ready to vote!

For election dates and details about how, when and where to vote, visit www.colliervotes.com.

And if you missed it, please read my post, Request a Vote-By-Mail Ballot Today. The last day to request a Vote-By-Mail ballot to be mailed to you is August 8.

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