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On the ballot: Collier Commission District 5

Collier County Commission District 5

Incumbent commissioner Bill McDaniel, a Republican, is running for a second four-year term. He is being challenged by Democrat David Turrubiartez and Republican Raymond Christopher, who is running with No Party Affiliation (NPA).

This just-published article 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 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.

Raymond Christopher (No Party Affiliation)

Christopher moved to Collier County in 2005 from Canada at the age of 17 to attend Ave Maria University. He graduated from the university’s law school in 2011 and founded his own practice, Ave Law, in 2014. The firm’s main areas of practice include real estate law, personal injury, estate planning, and criminal defense. He says that as a small business owner, he has “a deep understanding of the need for fiscal responsibility” and that as a Constitutionalist, he is “a staunch adherent to process and the rule of law.”

Roads and “proper infrastructure,” development that places residents’ interests first, government transparency, and rule of law, are his Issues but he does not elaborate on what he would do about them

He lives with his wife and five children in Ave Maria. He is a Little League coach, according to his Candidate Questionnaire; I could find no other volunteer or civic activities.

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?

I am a husband, father, attorney, self employed, and a little league coach. In University, I double majored in Political Science and History. I have rural roots, and I live in Ave Maria. I always pay my bills, and I understand the value of a taxpayer’s dollar.

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

1. I want the residents to have a voice at the table when it comes to County development.

2. I want to ensure that Collier County’s development is on a path that provides sustainability and quality of life for its citizens, including proper road and water infrastructure.

3. I want to work with Immokalee and all of the great economic infrastructure it has, including but not limited to its manufacturing sector, agricultural sector, and a beautiful, extremely well located airport.

Name one current public policy position you disagree with that you would like to change if elected.

Exceptions to the County’s Growth Management Plan have been granted repeatedly. I would only vote for development in accordance with the Growth Management Plan. If the Plan is inadequate, I want it corrected.

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

I want to work with developers who invest in our County to make it a nice place, but will also hold them accountable and cannot be bought by them.”

Endorsements

His website does not mention endorsements.

In His Own Words

Bill McDaniel (Republican)

McDaniel was elected to the County Commission in 2016 with 56 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat Tamara Paquette.

Born and raised in Franklin, PA, he attended Clarion State University, majoring in accounting and computer programming with a minor in economics. He moved to Naples in 1982. He launched a realty company in 1987 and a mining company, Big Island Excavating, in 1988. He also owns Lazy Springs Recreation Park in Fort Myers. He has two adult children.

Among his civic activities, he is currently the chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee of Goodwill of Southwest Florida (Director since 1998) and founder/president of the Corkscrew Island Neighborhood Association. In the past, he chaired the Board of County Commissioners-appointed East of 951 Horizon Study Committee, and served for two years on the Board of County Commissioners-appointed Rural Lands Stewardship Overlay Review Committee. In 2013, he was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the Collier County Housing Authority, serving until his election as Collier County Commissioner in 2016. (from William L. McDaniel, Jr. Bio, downloaded 10/9/20)

The Issues important to him are economic prosperity; stewardship of tax dollars; support our first responders; environmental responsibility; and infrastructure.

Press Coverage

His Votes Related to the Pandemic

Other Actions as Commissioner

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 lived in Collier County for 39 years. I have operated many successful businesses and applied business principles to serving as your County Commissioner.

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

1. Continue to lower taxes for Collier County residents;

2. Continue efforts to reduce bureaucratic obstacles to allow private sector job creation; and

3. Continue to manage growth, in an intelligent manner, with balance.

Name one current public policy position you disagree with that you would like to change:

Impact fees are a one-time tax imposed on the first person in. Collier County has the highest impact fees in the state, which is “the largest government contribution to expensive living circumstances in Collier.”

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

You may not have agreed with every decision I have made, but I want you to know I did my best to listen to all sides and make decisions that were fair and just for all, not just a few.

Endorsements

McDaniel has been endorsed by Naples Better Government, Collier County Firefighters IAFF Local 2396, Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR), and the Hispanic Vote of Southwest Florida. (website, 10/9/20)

In His Own Words

David Turrubiartez Jr. (Democrat)

Turrubiartez grew up in Immokalee and has spent most of his life in Collier County. He has worked in the construction rental industry in Southwest Florida, and is a family man and father of two boys with close ties to the community.

Smart growth, clean water, job creation, access to health care, infrastructure, and COVID-19 are his Key Issues.

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?

I come from humble beginnings where I learned the importance of hard work, determination, and the values that made me who I am today. I spent my entire life in SWFL and know the community well. I have seen the results of bad policies such as lack of healthcare, affordable housing, and job opportunities. I have an ability to listen that we currently don’t have in our district. If elected, I will help build trust in our elected officials.

What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?

1. Require Smart Growth with input from the people.

2. Provide healthcare for Immokalee, specifically an urgent care or hospital.

3. Provide more housing options for the working class so that they will remain here.

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

Time and time again developers have made the rules in housing and have not listened to the public’s cry for Smart Growth. We must change developers’ mindset from developing housing to developing communities, and require them to meet all the guidelines.

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

I’m from the community, for the community. Whether in the grocery store, or at the sidelines of my kids’ soccer games, I am always available to talk. I’m not here to be a politician, but to bring back your voice to the county. Too long certain areas have gone under-represented, but together we will change that. With your help we will give the voice back to the people.

Endorsements

Turrubiartez has been endorsed by the Florida Progressives PAC.

In His Own Words

The Money

According to campaign finance filings through 10/9/20:

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

Christopher received eight individual contributions. Two were for $1,000, both from attorneys. The others averaged $150 each. He loaned his campaign $600 and funded in-kind contributions of $2,311.

McDaniel received 140 individual contributions. Forty-nine were for $1,000, of which eight were from developers, including Collier Enterprises Management, Collier Land & Cattle Corp, Collier Land Development Inc., and Collier Land Holdings Inc., and three were from realtor PACs. The other contributions averaged $269 each.

Turrubiartez received 178 individual contributions, including $1,450 from the Collier County Democratic Party. The others averaged about $52 each. The addresses of 79 of the contributions were in Immokalee. He loaned his campaign $200.

Online Candidate Forums

All three candidates for the District 5 seat participated in the League of Women Voters of Collier County District 5 Candidate Forum on July 7, 2020, and candidates McDaniel and Turrubiartez participated in a virtual town hall via Facebook on Oct 1st, 2020.

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