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On the Ballot: Collier Mosquito Control District

Updated 4:49 p.m. ET Oct. 5, 2020

Two seats on the Board of the Collier Mosquito Control District (CMCD or the District) are up for election this year — Seats 4 and 5.

Russell Burland was unopposed in his run for Seat 5 and will be automatically elected. Seat 4 is currently held by Michael V. Reagen, who had been appointed to fill a vacancy and is not running for election.

The candidates for Seat 4 are Bruce Buchanan and Gene Ungarean.

In this post, I review what voters should know about the District, and what I learned about each candidate and the money financing the campaigns.

Please see How I Research Candidates and Six Things to Consider When Evaluating Candidates for my approach to writing these posts. I also asked the candidates to complete a questionnaire and included excerpts edited for brevity and clarity as well as links to the complete documents below.

The Collier Mosquito Control District

The District serves more than 330,000 of Collier County’s 370,000 residents from its primary location at the Naples Municipal Airport and substation at the Immokalee Airport.

Collier Mosquito Control District map
www.cmcd.org

Its mission is “to provide valuable service to the community through suppression of both disease-carrying and nuisance mosquito populations by and through the safest and most economical means available. The District utilizes a variety of methods (Integrated Mosquito Management) in a manner consistent with the highest level of safety and minimal adverse impact on humans, wildlife, the environment, and non-target organisms.” To learn how the District controls mosquitos, see Surveillance & Treatment on the District’s website.

The CMCD is governed by Florida law and is regulated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It must also comply with federal regulations established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The District’s total fiscal 2019-20 funding was $27.2 million. About $15.2 million was provided by ad valorem tax of 0.1720 mils or $17.20 per $100,000 of taxable property value of residents living in the District. The additional $12 million was provided by contractual treatment revenue, grants, insurance proceeds, and cash carry-over. The District’s financial statements may be seen here.

An Executive Director oversees the 39 full-time employees and three part-time employees. The District owns and operates seven aircraft and 21 vehicles.

Governance

The District is governed by a five-member, at-large Board of Commissioners who are elected in nonpartisan elections to four-year staggered terms and receive a salary of $400/month.

The Board’s role, it seems to me, is to represent the interests of the community and provide appropriate oversight by reviewing the District’s mission periodically, ensuring that the Executive Director and staff are fulfilling that mission, setting the millage rate, approving the budget, and overseeing the expenditure of taxpayer money.

A science or aviation background or expertise is not necessary.

Bruce Buchanan

Bruce Buchanan
Buchanan

Bruce Buchanan served in the 32nd Army Air Defense Command, stationed at the U.S. Air Force Headquarters Europe, after which he had a 28-year career in radio broadcasting and commercial production. He has a Coast Guard Captain license and an F.A.A. Private Pilot certificate, and has been a Collier County resident since 1997.

His civic activities include Naples Pilots Association and past Board Member of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1067. He is a mentor with the Naples Youth Aviation Project and has been a tour guide for the Naples Airport since 2015.

Questionnaire Responses

Read Buchanan’s complete response to my Candidate Questionnaire. Excerpts edited for brevity and clarity are:

Why are you running for this position?

As a Naples Airport Volunteer since 2015, I have completed approximately 75 tours of our airport facilities including the Control District operations. Service on the Board would give me a chance to give back the knowledge and importance of health considerations surrounding the Collier Mosquito Control District.

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

1. Ensure the District is and remains the flagship of districts in the state, from a fiscal, operational, and environmental standpoint.

2. The area of treatment has not been modified since 2007. Determine if it is time to make recommendations to the state on expansion of the District.

3. Continue the superior community outreach programs.

Name one past policy decision of the Board that you disagree with that you would like to change if elected.

I have been following the District work and decision-making process for years and I am not in disagreement with any of the decisions made. They are the result of research, evaluation, and collaboration.

The most important thing voters should know about you before making their decision in this race is that:

While I volunteer in several other areas, it would be a privilege to serve Collier County residents in another capacity, especially when it directly affects so much of our community.

In His Own Words

Gene Ungarean

Gene Ungarean Mosquito Control
Ungarean

Gene Ungarean is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He had a 32-year career in law enforcement in Aliquippa, PA, retiring after 18 years as Police Chief in 2014. Since moving to Collier County that same year, he has worked in property management and security at Grey Oaks Country Club, where he is currently director of management services.

Ungarean is a graduate of Leadership Collier. His current or past civic activities include/have included serving as president of his homeowners’ association and as a member of the Collier County Republican Executive Committee, the Collier County Identity Theft Task Force Committee, the Lions Club, VFW, and Fraternal Order of Police. He ran for the Collier County School Board in 2016 before stepping down to support then-candidate Stephanie Lucarelli.

Questionnaire Responses

Read Ungarean’s complete response to my Candidate Questionnaire. Excerpts edited for brevity and clarity are:

Why are you running for this position?

To improve the quality of life for all Collier County residents; to support the Mosquito Control Team to reduce the mosquito population in our county; to make sure we are using the latest technology and research so that we can have the best program available; all while ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of our residents.

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

1. Reduce the mosquito population.

2. Financial responsibility and transparency.

3. Ensure we are using the best and safest technology and research.

Name one past policy decision of the Board that you disagree with that you would like to change if elected.

There needs to be more public education about the Mosquito Control District. The public school sessions and advertising are good but we need to do more so people are aware of the good work being done.

The most important thing voters should know about him before making their decision in this race is that:

As a Police Chief I implemented programs that were inclusive to all residents, I instituted public-private partnerships and created innovative programs throughout my tenure. I also served as the Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator for the township. Should I be elected to the Mosquito Control District Board, I will seek to use these same strategies to better the already quality program that exists.

In His Own Words

The Money

According to campaign finance filings through today:

I reviewed the financial reports of the candidates on the Collier Supervisor of Elections website and noted the following:

Buchanan loaned his campaign $1,000. He received $250 from the Naples Pilots Association and in-kind contributions totaling $825 from CMCD Board member Sandra Lee Buxton and a family member and business related to her. After expenses, the campaign had cash of $950.

Ungarean received $200 from CMCD Board member Michael Reagen, who also endorsed him on Facebook. After expenses consisting solely of bank fees, the campaign had cash of $169.

Also Noted


Updated Oct. 5 to note that the civic activities listed for Ungarean were “current or past.”

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