On August 18, Florida voters will go to the polls to cast their ballots regarding Primary Elections for candidates for a number of elective posts and issues before voters. This week, the Coastal Breeze News would like to present to you four individuals who have graciously agreed to run to fill that seat which has for the last 20 years been held by Commissioner Donna Fiala. District One encompasses East Naples, Marco Island and Port of the Isles.
Although John D. Jenkins is running on the Democratic side of the ticket and is unopposed, he will be running against the winner of the three-way race for the Republican nomination for that very seat which Donna Fiala is vacating after two decades in office.
John D. Jenkins
On the Democratic side, John D. Jenkins has qualified and has lived in Collier County since 1974, having immigrated here from Canada.
Jenkins has been active in a number of activities within Collier County.
- Past President of the Naples Kiwanis Club.
- A Guardian Ad Litem on behalf of minors within the court system.
- 10 years of affiliation with the Greater Naples Little League as a coach and volunteer.
- Vice Chairman of the Collier County Public Transportation System.
In his campaign literature, he doesn’t believe whether you are a Democrat or Republican should matter, only your commitment to working for clean water, our children, the community and Collier County.
Editor’s note: On Sunday Jenkins was charged with possession of cocaine. While he has not responded to our requests for comment, The Collier County Democratic Party has asked he withdraw from the race. A replacement can be placed on the ballot if the Supervisor of Elections office is notified by September 1st.
On the Republican side of the ballot, there are three active candidates who have qualified, and they are listed in alphabetical order.
Mark Batchelor grew up in the Greater Philadelphia area and worked there during his professional career in the tech industry. He and his wife Jeri first purchased a residence in Collier County in 2001 and later moved here permanently in 2005. They have 5 adult children and 12 grandkids.
He has been active in a number of organizations since arriving in Collier County.
- The Collier County Republican Club
- Republican Men’s Club
- Knights of Columbus
- Captains for Clean Water
- National Rifle Association
- American Legion
- President of Fairways Villa Association
- Director of the Lely Country Club’s Homeowners
Batchelor is a veteran of the United States Air Force and spent 30 years working for several tech giants in the business world. If elected, he hopes to apply some of what he learned during his business career to making prudent policy decisions on the county level to improve services and quality of life for the residents of the county.
He believes strongly in protecting the balance between growth and the fragile ecosystem within Collier County. He is also committed to the need for workforce housing options to ensure first responders, teachers, healthcare and other median income professionals have the availability of options when it comes to where they work and live. He also sees a need to bring a facelift to the 41 and 951 corridors leading to Marco Island.
Fiscal responsibility is another area which Batchelor considers to be an important challenge for future leaders, while keeping in mind the need to deal with quality of life issues being demanded by residents. Good roads, clean water, quality parks and services are just some of those issues that have to be balanced according to Batchelor.
William Douglass retired from what is now referred to as the Greater Naples Fire Protection District (formerly the East Naples F.D.) in 2017 after 30 years of service to the East Naples community. During his time there he served as a firefighter, driver engineer and as a line lieutenant.
Douglass is married and has two grown children who were brought up in the South Collier sector of Collier County.
Douglass moved to Naples in 1984 as part of a corporate transfer to run a local restaurant. In 1987, he received his certification as a firefighter, having successfully graduated from the Florida Fire Services Standards and Training Program.
He has been active within the South Collier area serving on a number of committees, boards and organizations.
- Member of the East Naples Civic Association
- Member of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce
- Collier County Republican Club
- South Collier Republican Club
- Re-established the East Naples Jaycees after a period of dormancy
- Re-established the East Naples July 4th Independence Day Celebration to include fireworks
- Elected as the President of the Florida Jaycees
- Member of the East Naples Merchants Association (now called Beoneof.us)
- Served as a member of the Old Lely Country Club Property Owners Association
Douglass is also concerned about growth and his desires to see adequate infrastructure, such as roads and utilities in place prior to any future development. He is also concerned about protecting the fragile ecosystem within the District 1 boundaries and beyond.
Having seen first-hand the pressures on those within the middle-income sectors of the county workforce seeking moderately priced housing, he understands solving the workforce housing challenges in the county should be a priority. The ability to continue to attract potential employees seeking First-Responders, teachers, healthcare professionals and others is important to the vitality of the county.
Rick LoCastro made a career out of the U.S. Military, having graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He would later go on and earn three additional master’s degrees while serving in the Air Force before retiring in 2012 after 24 years of service.
LoCastro would be stationed around the nation and internationally, having the distinction of living and working in 80 different countries throughout the world during his service time according to his resume.
Some of his assignments included those of being a base commander of multiple city-sized military installations and other important assignments.
In 2012, he came to Naples to assume the position of Chief Operating Officer for Physicians Regional Hospital where he would work for the next 4 years. LoCastro also held several other positions since leaving Physicians Regional Hospital, including one at AVOW Hospice before opening his own consulting firm, RJL Consultants.
He has also been involved within several organizations in Collier County.
- Sunrise Rotary Club of Marco Island
- Golden Gate VFW Post
- Marco Island American Legion Post
- Graduate of Leadership Collier of the Naples Chamber of Commerce
- Member and past Director of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce
LoCastro’s hopes to provide what he refers to as proven leadership to deal with many of the same issues his fellow candidates share concerns over.
Workforce Housing is important to him also but feels it should be spread out amongst other Districts. The application of fiscal and budgetary restraints, while understanding the necessary budgetary priorities.
LoCastro also believes strongly that his experience in business, construction and development will bring him the necessary tools in dealing with the challenges of growth.
Voting Has Begun
The voting for the primary election has already begun in earnest. Florida is a closed primary state—this means that only voters who are registered members of a political party may vote for their respective party’s candidate in a primary election. Voters without a party affiliation (NPA) or those registered with a minor political party, are not eligible to vote in partisan contests.
As of Monday, August 3rd, the Supervisor of Elections Office had received 35,228 ballots out of the 217,312 registered voters in Collier County. That accounts for 16.21% of the registered voters.
Vote-by-Mail ballots must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections office at 3750 Enterprise Avenue, Naples FL 34104 by 7 PM on Election Day, August 18. Or by 6 PM at the satellite office located at the North Collier Government Service Center: 2335 Orange Blossom Drive, Naples FL 34109.
Early voting will commence on August 8th to the 15th from 10 AM to 6 PM each day. For voters on Marco Island, their Early Voting location will be at the Collier County Library on South Heathwood. Voters in the East Naples or Port of the Islands can vote at any of the Early Voting locations found on the Supervisor of Elections Office website: www.colliervotes.com.
If you wait for the Tuesday, August 18, Primary Election Day to vote you will vote at your regular Precinct or check the website at www.colliervotes.com. Polling places will be open from 7 AM to 7 PM on that day.