NAPLES — Just steps away from calm, blue-green water lapping under the Naples Pier, congressional hopeful Joe Garcia on Thursday announced a petition urging Gov. Charlie Crist to ban offshore drilling in the Gulf for good.
“The BP spill not only affects the Gulf, but everyone who lives here in Florida,” Garcia said. He’s running in Congressional District 25, which covers parts of Collier, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
Garcia said if Tallahassee politicians had their way in the past, there would have been rigs visible off Naples.
A consequence of the spill is that 200,000 Floridians could lose their jobs, Garcia said, comparing the disaster to a slow-moving hurricane.
“We have to ask the federal government for emergency assistance,” Garcia said, “and I call on the governor to begin that process.”
Invited by Garcia to speak, long-serving Naples Realtor Melanie Listrom said the area had obviously been through changes and challenges in the past few years. The spill, she said, represented an added burden.
“Clients have fears,” Listrom said. “When they think of the Gulf, they think the oil is everywhere, but it’s nowhere near us at this point.”
Despite that, she said, the business ripple effect will be felt next season. “Stores, real estate ... everything across the board,” she said.
Garcia, also an attorney, said he’d like to see the president adopt a much more aggressive energy bill than the one before the Senate and House.
“We’re giving up Florida’s greats resource ... the beaches,” Garcia said.
He urged people to visit his joegarcia2010.com Web site to participate in the petition.
Garcia is a former Miami-Dade Democratic party chief who recently resigned his post at the energy department to run for Congress a second time.