Updated Jul. 22, 2022, at 10:15 AM
In this post, I share what I learned about the candidates running for Collier County Board of County Commissioners to represent District 4: Daija Hinojosa, Daniel Kowal, Michelle McLeod, and incumbent Penny Taylor.
Only registered Republicans living in District 4 may vote in this closed primary election. Find your district here. The candidate who receives the majority of the votes cast will face a Write-In option in the general election in November, but for all intents and purposes, the winner of this Republican primary will be the next District 4 commissioner.
If you are not yet registered to vote or want to change your party affiliation, the last day to do so is July 25. Click here.
To Get Started
I am sharing a great deal of information about the candidates in this post. Take a few minutes to watch these brief video clips before reading the rest of the post below. It will definitely help put the text-based material into perspective.
- Daija Hinojosa — The Anti-Politician for Collier County Commission (1:34), 7/19/22
- Daniel Kowal — On “Patriot News 45, the Christian Television Network” (4:43), 1/29/22
- Michelle McLeod — On “Mind Your Mind with DLC” (1:38), 3/3/22
- Penny Taylor — Penny Taylor on Collier County Beaches (1:34), 3/8/22
Read a summary of the candidates’ responses to my nine questions about themselves, their priorities, and proposed solutions:
Read each candidate’s individual response below.
The candidates participated in a May 3, 2022, candidate forum hosted by Collier Citizens Council, Greater Naples Leadership, Naples Better Government, and League of Women Voters of Collier County. Watch the recording or read the transcript:
Daija Hinojosa, 35, moved to Southwest Florida from Oregon in 2012. During an 18-year career in retail management, she managed multi-million dollar budgets and directed operations for large corporate retailers.
Hinojosa is a Leadership Ambassador for Agents for Change, International and a School of Influence student, a member of the Collier County Republican Executive Committee, and a Republican Precinct Committeeman. She also serves on the Government Relations committee of the East Naples Civic & Commerce Association.
Hinojosa says she will champion proactive approaches to improving our water quality, encourage diverse economic development, and adhere to the community vision for balanced growth through codifying the East Naples Community Development Plan.
According to her website, she serves God, upholds the Bill of Rights, believes in the Second Amendment, believes in limited government, opposes mask mandates, and is a principled based person. (sic)
“I oppose ‘smart growth’ policies and would never discourage urban sprawl,” she said at the Jun. 28, 2022, BCC meeting. “It’s one thing to be good stewards of our land and maximize available space, but it’s another to slowly chip away at urbanized living to encourage an environmentally-obsessed agenda, all in the name of good will and affordable housing.”
She recently signed a Tax Pledge with State Representative Bob Rommel, promising to not raise taxes on citizens in Collier County.
Hinojosa has been endorsed by State Rep. Anthony Sabatini because she “boldly fought in support of the Bill of Rights Sanctuary city ordinance in Collier County.”
- Website — votedaija.com
- Facebook — Vote Daija
- Twitter — @DaijaHinojosa
- YouTube — DAIJA
- Instagram — votedaija
- LinkedIn – Daija Hinojosa
- Voter Focus Candidate Statement
Daniel Kowal, 55, graduated with honors from the Federal Law Enforcement Academy and later studied Public Administration at Barry University.
He served for six years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic, and with the US Capitol Police’s Dignitary Protection unit as a special agent. In 2003, he moved to Naples and joined the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked primarily with the Special Enforcement Team and Aggressive Criminal Tactics Team assigned to Vice Narcotics. He retired from the Sheriff’s Department earlier this year.
Kowal says he is “the conservative choice for Collier County Commissioner District 4.“ He told the Christian Family Coalition that “I am the only candidate willing to protect and preserve your God-given rights. Just as important the only candidate willing to protect our children and our future from indoctrination from the liberal predators.”
His key issues are clean water, safe streets, and sustainable growth.
Kowal says he disagreed with the BCC’s county mask mandate, initial vote (subsequently reversed) to hire a search firm to find the new county manager, and awarding of $15 million in financial incentives to Great Wolf Lodge.
According to his website, Kowal is pro-clean water, pro-second amendment, pro-limited government, pro-life, pro-border security, pro-jobs, pro-law enforcement, pro-military, and pro-every day American. Cole Fine Guns & Gunsmithing is one of his sponsors.
- Website — votefordankowal.com
- Facebook — votefordankowal
- Twitter — @votefordankowal
- Instagram — votefordankowal
- Facebook Videos — votefordankowal/videos
- Patriot Talk Show with Brendon Leslie (at 41:43), 6/28/22
- Collier County Republican Men’s Club (5:56), 5/6/22
- Dan on E-Heroes (40:38), 11/16/21
- Dan on 239 Uncensored (32:00), 11/14/21
McLeod, 58, is a third-generation Floridian, raised in Fort Myers. She earned a B.A. degree from Saint Mary’s College and an MBA with a concentration in finance from Florida Gulf Coast University. She is a graduate of Leadership Collier – Class 2014, and Leadership Florida – Class XXXVI. Her over 30-year career was in hotel management and banking.
During a term on the Naples City Council (2014-2018), she served on the County’s Mental Illness and Addiction Ad Hoc Committee and helped create the county’s first five-year strategic plan to address these issues. She is now working with the Collier Coalition for Healthy Minds to implement the strategic plan.
McLeod says her top three priorities as a county commissioner will be to:
- “stop excessive spending on projects like the Paradise Coast Sports Complex (currently $67 million over budget);
- stop subsidizing companies that bring low wage jobs which only exacerbates our affordable housing problems;
- and support smart growth policies to avoid further urban sprawl and negative impacts on the environment.”
Her positions on eleven local issues are outlined on her website: Growth; Water Quality; Workforce Talent; Mental Health; Housing Solutions; Control Spending; Economic Sustainability; Masks and Vaccines; School Safety; Airport Noise; and Hospital.
McLeod has been endorsed by the Naples Area Board of Realtors, Naples Better Government, and Professional Firefighters of Naples Local 2174 (website). In addition, view endorsement videos here.
- Website — mcleodforcommissioner.com
- Facebook — Michelle McLeod for Commissioner
- LinkedIn – Michelle McLeod for County Commissioner
- Mind Your Mind Michelle McLeod video (for David Lawrence Centers, 3/3/22)
- Voter Focus Candidate Statement
In the news:
- Former Naples Councilwoman Michelle McLeod running for Collier County Commission in 2022, Naples Daily News, 7/1/21
Taylor, 72, moved to Naples from New York in 1978. She earned a B.A. degree from the University of South Florida and has owned and operated her own photography business in Naples for the past 40 years. She is a past president of the Lake Park Neighborhood Association.
From 2000-2010, Taylor served on the Naples City Council, including two years as Vice-Mayor. She was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2014 and re-elected in 2018.
She currently serves as Chair of Economic Development for the Board of County Commissioners and co-chair of the County Redevelopment Agency. She has also served on the Florida Association of Counties Water and Sustainability Committee and represents the county on the 16-County Coalition of the Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee and the Indian River Lagoon.
Taylor has one daughter and two grandchildren and has fostered close to fifty children.
Taylor’s platform positions are:
- Economic Development — Maintain our quality of life and current property tax rate while developing diverse sources of revenue.
- Growth and Development — Support density as outlined in the county’s comprehensive plan, but “increasing density, project-by-project, must be stopped until we understand the will of the voters.”
- Water Quality — Advocate for a recurring source of state revenue to help counties with septic to sewer conversions. Properly manage water resources.
Taylor’s Blue Ribbon Re-Election Committee includes Naples philanthropist Jay Baker, Arthrex President and Founder Reinhold Schmieding, former Naples City Council Member Linda Penniman, and more.
- Website — votepenny.com
- Facebook — Penny Taylor Collier County
- Facebook Videos – Penny Taylor Collier County
- YouTube — Penny Taylor on Collier County Water Quality (0:35); On Collier County Development and Density (0:41); On Collier County Beaches (1:24)
- Voter Focus Candidate Statements — 2022, 2018, 2014
- In the News:
- Penny Taylor announces reelection campaign for Collier County Commission in 2022, Naples Daily News, 7/8/21
- Collier County commissioner finds storm protection plan lacking, WINK News, 8/19/21
Here are the monetary contributions and expenditures reported by each candidate according to their most recent campaign treasurer’s reports:
I reviewed all the campaign contribution reports online on Jul. 18, 2022. Of interest:
Hinojosa received 79 monetary contributions: 67 from individuals, 11 from businesses, and 1 from a PAC (Marine Industries PAC). Seventeen percent of funds raised were from outside Florida.
Kowal received 174 monetary contributions: 165 from individuals, 5 from businesses, and one from a PAC (Marine Industries PAC). He personally contributed $59,025 of the total, including a personal loan to the campaign of $4,000. Fifty-five percent of funds raised were from outside Florida.
McLeod received 117 monetary contributions: 99 from individuals and 18 from businesses, and made a personal loan to the campaign of $25,000. One percent of funds raised were from outside Florida.
Taylor received 279 monetary contributions: 267 from individuals, 11 from businesses, and 1 from a PAC (Collier County Medical Society PAC). Twenty-two percent of funds raised were from outside Florida.
Each of the four candidates has different reasons for running and a different base of supporters. Each has different values, skills, abilities, work and life experience, and views of the role of government.
If you have questions about any of the candidates, don’t hesitate to contact them directly through their website.
If you are a registered Republican living in District 4 (find your district), I urge you to vote in this important election.
If you have questions or need additional information about the election itself, visit the Collier County Supervisor of Elections website or call 239-252-8683.