Residents meet and greet candidates
Commission hopefuls talk Jackson Lab
Politics in the Park straw poll results*
State legislature District 76
■ Ann Grady 124
■ Kathleen Passidomo 367
State legislature District 101
■ Matt Hudson (incumbent) 367
■ Larry Wilcoxson 109
State legislature District 112
■ Juan D’Arce 42
■ Johnny G. Farias 37
■ James Ptraick Guerrero 39
■ Jeanette Nuñez 220
■ Sandra Ruiz 55
■ Robert Van Name 35
Collier County Commission District 2
■ Gina Downs 60
■ Joe Foster 195
■ Georgia Hiller 281
Collier County Commission District 4
■ Fred Coyle (incumbent) 254
■ Lavigne Ann Kirkpatrick 245
Collier School Board District 1
■ Eric Cox 81
■ Pat Carroll (incumbent) 219
■ Rosanne Winter 188
Collier School Board District 3
■ Barbara Berry 215
■ Reg Buxton 167
■ Kathy Ryan 116
Collier School Board District 5
■ Mary Ellen Cash 107
■ Roy Terry (incumbent) 249
■ Joe Whitehead 131
* Votes cast: 600. Everyone, including children, could vote.
NAPLES — Banners were hung, balloons were flying and goodies — of the edible and political kind — were we in stock as more than 600 people strolled through “Politics in the Park” at the Naples Hilton.
But it was the voting in the event’s straw poll and the meet and greet that got the most attention.
“I think it’s really cool that everybody is voting,” said 10-year-old Miguel Ricardo, who attended the event with his family.
Decked out in a “Support Georgia Hiller” T-shirt and an American flag-inspired hat Miguel said that his first time voting was pretty exciting.
East Naples resident Jim Bloom said he saw the event as an opportunity for the community residents to give their opinions directly to candidates.
“It’s important to come out here and talk to them individually, to hear from the candidates themselves on where they stand on the important issues,” said Bloom, 40, after casting his vote in the straw poll.
This year’s Politics in the Park took four months to plan and had 40 participants RSVP — including candidates running for the state legislature, the school board and county commission seats, said Kathleen Curatolo, with the Collier Building Industry Association, a sponsor of the event. Other sponsors were the Naples Area Board of Realtors, the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce and the Naples Daily News.
“It’s just really nice to see the community turn out for an event like this, because your vote is very important,” said District 5 School Board member Roy Terry, who is running for re-election. “It’s going to determine where the school board or the county commission is going to go for the next two years.”
Along with the candidates, the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as groups advocating for and against several constitutional amendments had booths and passed out paraphernalia.
Voting on the straw ballot, which included legislative, county commission and school district candidates, was originally slated to run from 4 to 6:30 p.m. However, ballots ran out at 6 p.m.
In total, 600 votes were cast — nearly twice the 340 ballots cast during 2008’s “Politics in the Park.”
Although she didn’t win the straw vote, School Board District 1 candidate Rosanne Winter said she felt it was a good first showing.
“I was really very please at this turn out and the vote. I didn’t think I would get that many votes,” said Winter of her 188 votes. “To get that many votes with only five weeks in, we are very excited.”
Fellow political newcomer Lavigne Ann Kirkpatrick, who is running against County Commissioner Fred Coyle for the District 4 seat, said she too saw Wednesday’s vote as great start for the hard fight ahead.
But it’s the fact that the event ran out of ballots, Kirkpatrick said, that gives her the most hope of improving her numbers in August.
“If we had a little more time and a few more ballots we might have won (tonight),” said Kirkpatrick, who received 245 votes to Coyle’s 254. “I think its’ going to be a good tight race. Representing the people is what’s important.”