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On the Ballot: Collier Commission District 1

Collier Commission District 1

Updated 9:12 a.m. ET Oct. 9, 2020

Republican Rick LoCastro and Democrat John Jenkins are running for the County Commission District 1 seat being vacated by Republican Donna Fiala, who is retiring. If you live in District 1, this will be on your ballot.

An article published today by Naples Daily News reporter Patrick Riley provides valuable information about the candidates and the state of the race.

In this post, I will review what I learned from researching the candidates, look at the money that is financing the campaigns, and provide links to online candidate forums. Please see How I Research Candidates and 6 Things to Consider When Evaluating Candidates for my approach to writing these posts. I asked the candidates to complete a questionnaire and included excerpts edited for brevity and clarity as well as links to the complete documents below.

Rick LoCastro (Republican)

Rick LoCastro
LoCastro

Rick LoCastro 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 with the Air Force, he retired as a colonel in 2012. Upon retirement, he was recruited to Naples for a hospital executive position and moved to Marco Island. He was Chief Operating Officer at Physicians Regional Medical Center – Collier Blvd from 2012 – 2015 and Senior Director of Development & Senior Military Advisor – Avow Hospice Naples in 2017.

Today, according to LinkedIn, he is president and founder of RJL Consulting Team (about which a Google search revealed nothing), a member of the Florida Advisory Committee to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and a member of the Western Florida Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, on whose Board he served from 2014 to 2017. According to its website, he is also Executive Director of Development for Empowerment Enterprises, Ltd., a Washington, D.C., based government relations and advocacy firm.

Locally, he served on the Board of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce (2013 – 2017) and is a graduate of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce Leadership Collier program.

LoCastro’s tagline is “Experienced. Veteran. Leadership.” His website mentions workforce housing, real estate and land management, county finances and resources, environmental protection, emergency preparedness, and a concentration of community issues as among his “focus areas.” In addition, the September 21, 2020, issue of his newsletter, “The LoCastro Report”, listed his priorities for East Naples, Goodland, Port of the Islands, Marco Island, Isles of Capri, and “Overall.”

Press Coverage

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 deep and diverse business, healthcare, and local community experience.”

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.”

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

Improperly managed design, growth, approval of development in East Naples.

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

During my military and civilian career (and unlike my opponents), I have managed billions of taxpayer dollars. 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 to have been a leader in all aspects of it.

Endorsements

For the November general election, LoCastro has been endorsed by Naples Better Government and The Hispanic Vote of Southwest Florida.

Before the August 2020 Republican primary, LoCastro reported endorsements from the Naples Area Board of Realtors, Naples Better Government, and Collier County Medical Society PAC, and the “highest rating” from Florida Citizens Alliance & Christian Family Coalition.

Also before the August primary, he reported endorsements from 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, and more. (via The LoCastro Report)

In His Own Words

John Jenkins (Democrat)

John "JJ" Jenkins
Jenkins

Jenkins was born in Toronto, Canada, where he was raised from the age of eight months by adoptive parents. While in secondary school, he joined a volunteer EMT Service and realized “that a life of service to others would be his North Star.” While attending Confederation College for Law and Security Administration in Ontario, he also served with the Military Police. He then launched a private investigation and paralegal services firm, his “first highly successful entrepreneurial effort.” He and his American wife moved to Collier County in 1987, where he worked as an on-air radio personality before launching Auto Nanny, a car concierge service, around 1997, and received his B.A. from Kaplan University graduating Summa Cum Laude. He became an American citizen in 200​1​.

Jenkins’ civic activities include past service as President of the Naples Kiwanis, Founding Member of Immokalee Kiwanis, coach with Greater Naples Little League, Guardian Ad Litem, and Vice-Chair of the Collier County Public Transportation Advisory Committee. He is a member of Unity of Naples and has served on its Board of Directors.

Public transportation/infrastructure, environmental protection, development of rural collier county, affordable workforce housing, senior services, and basic human rights ordinance are discussed on Jenkins’ Issues page.

Jenkins says he is running for this position because “I woke up one morning imagining my boys looking down upon me on my death bed and asking, “Dad, what did you do for us and humanity when you had the ability and wherewithal to do something? IF I DON”T DO THIS NOW I HAVE TO LOOK THEM IN THE EYES AND SAY “I DID NOTHING!”

Press Coverage

Note: On 9/14/20, Collier Circuit Judge Ramiro Mañalich granted Jenkins’ request to be admitted to a pretrial diversion program. A court appearance is scheduled for November 12, 2020. Case # 11-2020-CF-001089-AXXX-XX via collierclerk.com.

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 am an Immigrant. I have been a small business owner for 23 years. I am a father of 2 amazing young men. I have devoted my life to service and I desire to work for the people that make Collier County work.

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

1. “Restructure and Redevelopment of Public Transportation and Infrastructure.”

2. “A Moratorium for Raw lands purchased for development, until such time that lands can be designated in Perpetuity as environmentally sensitive and protected.”

3. “Basic Human Rights Ordinance specifically tailored for all residents of Collier County.”

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

The last time a Basic Human Rights Ordinance came before the Collier County Commission, it was voted down 5-0. On day 1, I will put into motion the groundwork for a Basic Human Rights Ordinance protecting every resident of Collier County.

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

I am a man of the people. I will work for EVERY resident. I am a public servant not a politician. I am a critical thinker, a problem solver and a solution seeker. My only desire is to step up and serve Collier County’s best future interests as it relates to Our Children, The Environment, Our Community and My Commitment to Humanity.

Endorsements

His website lists no endorsements.

In His Own Words

The Money

According to campaign finance filings through today:

I reviewed the financial reports of both candidates on the Collier Supervisor of Elections website and, focusing on large amounts and prominent donors, noted the following:

Jenkins loaned his campaign $16,505 and provided the majority of the in-kind contributions. He had 18 monetary contributions: two for $1,000, the rest between $5 and $500.

LoCastro loaned his campaign $21,525 and provided $8,600 in in-kind contributions. He had 311 monetary contributions: 50 were for $1,000, the rest averaged $169. Of note is a $1,000 contribution from Naples land-use attorney Rich Yovanovich. Yovanovich currently represents Stock Development, which is seeking County approval of its controversial One Naples residential high-rise project. Also of note are three $1,000 contributions from the NABOR PAC.

Online Candidate Forums

I recommend that you watch at least one of these recorded candidate forums to hear the candidates speak and share their thoughts on issues of interest to the community.


Updated Oct 9, 2020, to clarify when LoCastro’s endorsements were given. I do not know which, if any, pre-primary endorsements carry forward to the November general election.

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