As Chair of Economic Development for the Board of Commissioners, we increased efforts to diversify Collier’s economy to attract and retain clean companies of the future.
Such companies include Arthrex, a global leader in medical device development and medical education in orthopedics. Parker-Hannifin, which develops high-tech engineering solutions, set up operations here. Collier County is emerging as a regional distribution center attracting companies like Uline and Amazon.
I led the process to develop a third ‘leg’ of the tourism stool: leisure, the arts - and now sports tourism.
The new Paradise Coast Sports Complex created a home for youth sports tourism, attracting families across the nation with events like the FBU youth football tournament. Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor recreation and accommodations resort, operates in select markets across the country. They chose Collier County for its newest facility tapping into the growing consumer base fueled by the sports complex.
Ensuring the arts is firmly established as part of our identity and continues as a powerful tourism driver, I initiated Collier’s first Arts and Culture Strategic Plan.
This is resulting in tighter coordination among the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, county government and private galleries and cultural centers. Focusing on the same goal generates more arts-derived economic impact for tourism.
I am building political support to end the insidious practice of undermining Collier County’s growth management plan.
An astounding 44% of the land use items coming before the Board of Commissioners seek to amend the Comprehensive Plan to achieve greater density. That’s great for developers, but it’s terrible for those of us concerned about traffic jams, over-run beaches and finding a place to park at the grocery store.
I am applying policy recommendations to create more affordable housing solutions.
As a condition for increasing density in certain conditions, developers set aside a certain percentage of housing units at below market rates. The Urban Land Institute provided policy recommendations to increase affordable housing, and I am working to put this plan into practice. Affordable housing is key to attracting teachers, public safety personnel, nurses and workers in other professions. And it will reduce employee turnover due to an inability of these workers to afford to live in the Naples area.
I successfully advocated for Collier County’s interests on a statewide infrastructure group.
Known as M-CORES, this group was seeking to build additional roads, for example connecting Collier to Polk County when I-75 and I-4 do that already. Instead, the regional mission was repurposed to support and invest in existing roads and infrastructure.
I bring successful outcomes for water quality through regional coordination.
Recognizing water is a shared resource among political jurisdictions, I was appointed to the County Coalition for the Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee. The occurrence of red tide in our coastline water has been directly linked to water releases down the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee. Under my leadership and with the unanimous support of the Board of Commissioners, Collier has joined Lee and Charlotte counties to achieve equitable distribution of Lake Okeechobee water releases.
I bring successful outcomes for water quality through state coordination.
I represent Collier County on the Water Committee of the Florida Association of Counties. I continue to be a strong advocate of establishing a recurring source of state revenue to help Collier and other Florida counties in their septic to sewer conversion. This policy that I introduced to the Water Committee has been adopted by county leaders to present to the 2022 Florida Legislative session.
We are better managing storm water problems.
In 2020, the County invested $60 million to address the long - standing storm-water issues facing Collier. Hurricane Irma taught us the importance of managing storm water on a continuous basis. Now we are.
Coordinating my efforts with key organizations led to thousands of vulnerable seniors receiving vaccines.
Joining the Naples Senior Center, the Florida Department of Health - Collier County, and Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, I helped seniors overcome technology barriers to securing vaccine appointments. What started as a pilot project, led to 7400 seniors receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in pop-up clinics strategically located across the county.
I stand up for communities impacted by ill-conceived projects.
Working with community leaders and concerned citizens, we stopped plans for a county parking garage in the Seagate community. I championed their concerns and prevailed with the county by calling attention to the project’s negative impacts.
I lead on the streets, not behind a desk.
The emergency response to Hurricane Irma required a team effort centered on the county’s Emergency Operations Center which brings together public safety, public health and transportation. Coordinating with the EOC, I assessed critical facilities and functions that were operating to assist in the recovery effort. Similarly, I was able to work with a charitable organization to identify hard-hit residents in desperate need of financial assistance for essential items.
We developed strong ties with police and minorities.
I established the Martin Luther King Unity Walk, as part of the MLK birthday celebration, to achieve a strong community presence that respects law enforcement and forges stronger ties to diverse demographics across the county. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office, City of Naples Police and others in the public safety community, together with community leaders, established solidarity to help avoid conflicts seen elsewhere.