The Daily News' Southwest Florida People to Watch in 2013

William DeShazer/Staff
County commissioner Georgia Hiller takes over as chairman for county commissioner Fred Coyle during the county commission meeting at the Collier Government Center on Tuesday Dec. 11, 2012.

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William DeShazer/Staff County commissioner Georgia Hiller takes over as chairman for county commissioner Fred Coyle during the county commission meeting at the Collier Government Center on Tuesday Dec. 11, 2012.

2013 promises to be a newsy year. A gubernatorial race will heat up. A reorganized County Commission will begin revealing its new agenda. A new face will represent the area in Congress.

And some old and familiar faces are still around making headlines.

Here is a look at the Daily News’ People to Watch in 2013:

1. TIM NANCE/GEORGIA HILLER: How will Jim Coletta’s replacement affect the Collier County Commission? Nance can either be a swing vote or he can be the key to a new majority.

Commission watchers know where Hiller is on most issues. For now she sits front and center as the chairwoman, and she is not afraid to voice her opinion, question the status quo and be the lightning rod in the commission chamber.

2. HEALTH CARE OFFICIALS: The three major Southwest Florida health-care providers and their leaders — NCH Healthcare Systems ( Allen Weiss), Lee Memorial Health Systems (Jim Nathan), and Health Management Associates Inc. (Alan Levine, head of Florida HMA hospitals) — will be going through a business re-evaluation as they prepare to tackle possible cuts to Medicare and changes brought on by Obamacare.

3. TREY RADEL: What can the new congressman for Florida’s 19th House District do? As a freshman he’s not going to have much power, but the former TV news anchor and talk radio host intends to stick to his conservative values. He’s on the record as opposing Obamacare. He may inherit some decisions related to the fiscal cliff.

4. RICK SCOTT/ CHARLIE CRIST: Now that Crist is officially out as an Obama-hugging Democrat, the former Republican governor is hinting he wants his old job back.

How much of his personal fortune will Naples'-own Rick Scott spend this time around to keep Crist out of Tallahassee? Groups backing Scott have already raised millions.

The campaign should start brewing earlier than normal. How far along Scott is in his quest to create 700,000 new jobs in seven years could determine if he keeps his.

5. MYRA DANIELS: So much for retirement.

The brains behind the Naples Philharmonic Center of the Arts has a new venture. Daniels wants to build a "latch-key kid education center" on the northwest corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Estey Avenue.

She has been working with the Salvation Army, which would operate the facility. So far, she has raised $800,000 and is in the process of raising $4.5 million more. It may sound like crazy cash, but remember many people never thought she could raise the money to create The Phil more than 30 years ago.

6. GARRETT RICHTER: Our local state senator was plucked to be the Senate president's top lieutenant. What will this extra clout and seat at the upper chamber's leadership table mean for Southwest Florida?

Richter is also the head of the state Senate Gaming Committee. Does Florida need legalized casino gambling? The people at the Naples/Fort Myers Dog track want at least slots. The Seminoles in Immokalee and other spots might say otherwise. Some major investors in Miami want it all. But will legislators want it?

7. TOURISTS: We can't live with them. We can't live without them. They clog the roads. They cause long waits at restaurants. They pack the beaches. But they bring a ton of money to Southwest Florida.

Bring them on.

8. COLLIER EDC CHIEF: Collier County Manager Leo Ochs hired Bruce Register to lead the county's economic development efforts. The 53-year-old, who is expected to start in late January, is currently the corporate business development manager for Hillsborough County, a position he has held since 1997.

During the hiring process he talked about striking a balance between different interests. What Collier County is interested in is creating new business opportunities and ultimately more jobs.

9. EDUCATION LEADERS: The Florida Department of Education earned an F this past year for miscalculating grades for teachers, schools and districts. Will the state ever figure out a way to properly grade them?

Will the state be prepared to phase out the reading and math portions of the always controversial FCAT for the more intense "common core" standards in 2014-15? And there's bound to be some confusion and controversy attached to the "value-added" teacher evaluations that are based on students' state test scores. When will we ever learn?

10. JEFF ALLBRITTEN: The new president of Edison State College has been low-key since his return in August (he is the former vice president of Edison’s Collier campus). But this year he’s got to make sure the school, which has been around for 50 years, doesn’t lose its accreditation.

He also needs to build trust with a shrinking student body. The mass exodus from the college’s new dormitory — which some students says is overpriced and over-controlled — is raising red flags.

RECAP 2012 WATCH LIST

The People to Watch in 2012 were certainly worth scrutinizing. There were many surprises but some did exactly as expected. Here's what happened to the People to Watch in 2012.

Congressman Connie Mack. Lexey Swall/Staff

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Congressman Connie Mack. Lexey Swall/Staff

Connie Mack: The longtime Congressman is soon to be unemployed. The Republican did decide to make a run for the U.S. Senate but couldn't utilize his family's name recognition to knock off incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Mack's wife, Mary Bono Mack, is also out of a job, losing her congressional seat in California. Maybe they can start a reality show?

Dania Maxwell/Staff
Republican Trey Radel, left, his wife Amy Wegmann Radel, center, and their son, Jude, right, celebrate Trey's victory in the primary elections for his seat in congress for district 19 at the Trianon Bonita Bay Hotel on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 in Bonita Springs, Fla.

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Dania Maxwell/Staff Republican Trey Radel, left, his wife Amy Wegmann Radel, center, and their son, Jude, right, celebrate Trey's victory in the primary elections for his seat in congress for district 19 at the Trianon Bonita Bay Hotel on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 in Bonita Springs, Fla.

Mack's replacement: The race for Mack's seat looked like the Kentucky Derby with so many candidates in the field. In the end, a TV-anchor-turned-conservative-radio-host made a late surge to win.

Trey Radel may have benefited from a wide-open race, but he certainly showed local politicians how to run a campaign. Having a likable and recognizable wife, former Fox4 News anchor Amy Wegmann, didn't hurt his chances.

Kenneth Walker, the president of Edison State College speaks on a panel of area superintendents and college and university presidents during the Market Watch Education Summit on Wednesday morning at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Estero. Lexey Swall/Staff

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Kenneth Walker, the president of Edison State College speaks on a panel of area superintendents and college and university presidents during the Market Watch Education Summit on Wednesday morning at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Estero. Lexey Swall/Staff

Edison Board of Trustees: Edison State College sent Kenneth Walker into retirement. His legacy ended in turmoil. Former Edison Vice President Jeff Allbritten has taken the reins.

Kathleen van Bergen, chief executive officer and president of the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, has a meeting with members of her staff in her office on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, in Naples. Van Bergen took over for Myra Janco Daniels as head of the philharmonic on Sept. 1. David Albers/Staff

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Kathleen van Bergen, chief executive officer and president of the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, has a meeting with members of her staff in her office on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, in Naples. Van Bergen took over for Myra Janco Daniels as head of the philharmonic on Sept. 1. David Albers/Staff

Kathleen van Bergen: She did some heavy lifting as Naples Philharmonic CEO replacing the originator Myra Daniels. She arranged to have the mammoth Dawn's Forest sculpture moved to the airport. She also instituted last-minute rush tickets for some performances and is working hard at keeping The Phil young and fresh.

Mitt Romney is greeted by supporters during a book signing for his book 'No Apology' at Barnes & Noble in North Naples on March 9, 2010. About 1,000 supporters showed up to have their copy of his book autographed by the former Republican presidential candidate. Greg Kahn/Staff

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Mitt Romney is greeted by supporters during a book signing for his book "No Apology" at Barnes & Noble in North Naples on March 9, 2010. About 1,000 supporters showed up to have their copy of his book autographed by the former Republican presidential candidate. Greg Kahn/Staff

GOP nominee for president: Mitt Romney won the nomination, but lost in November to President Obama. The Republicans are reeling and if they want the White House back they are going to have to find a fresh crop of candidates in 2016. Can you say Jeb Bush?

Commissioner Fred Coyle tries to work out the details of an agreement about a budget dispute with the Clerk of Court Dwight Brock on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009, in Naples. Brock threatened to shut down non-court operations by the end of Wednesday if the commission did not give him money that was previously negotiated. David Albers/ Staff

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Commissioner Fred Coyle tries to work out the details of an agreement about a budget dispute with the Clerk of Court Dwight Brock on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009, in Naples. Brock threatened to shut down non-court operations by the end of Wednesday if the commission did not give him money that was previously negotiated. David Albers/ Staff

Georgia Hiller/ Fred Coyle: Will these two ever get along? The answer appears to be no. Earlier this month, Hiller jumped at the chance to replace Coyle as the commission chairman — dramatically switching seats in the middle of the meeting. There is certainly no love lost between these two.

Collier County superintendent Kamela Patton

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Collier County superintendent Kamela Patton

Kamela Patton: The Collier School District's grade is up. Individual school grades, according to the state, are up. Students' scores are up. She's opened the line of communication with the community. But are local students any smarter?

The Collier County School District certainly looks smarter for hiring Patton. Finally, some stability in the school district's highest office.

North Naples firefighters respond to a fatal structure fire at 804 98th Ave. N. in North Naples on Tuesday afternoon. Officials confirmed that 71-year-old Barbara Bonny, the resident of the home, died in the blaze. Officials from the Collier County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Investigators, the State Fire Marshall and North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District are investigating the fire. Tristan Spinski/Staff

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North Naples firefighters respond to a fatal structure fire at 804 98th Ave. N. in North Naples on Tuesday afternoon. Officials confirmed that 71-year-old Barbara Bonny, the resident of the home, died in the blaze. Officials from the Collier County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Investigators, the State Fire Marshall and North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District are investigating the fire. Tristan Spinski/Staff

Firefighters: Four independent fire districts received federal grants to rehire laid-off firefighters. A couple of districts are considering consolidation. Two out of three districts on the ballot lost measures to increase taxes. And a group of fire districts have banded together to increase purchasing power.

EDC: Collier commissioners unanimously approved the creation of the Office of Business and Economic Development on June 26. The office will work to attract new businesses, and help existing businesses grow and expand within Collier County. They hired a new director, Bruce Register. Now he will be one to watch in 2013.

TV-2 news anchor Kellie Burns recounts her recent news trip to Hait with Bill Barnett, mayor of Naples, and event committee member Ursula Pfahl. Sebastien Girard

Photo by Photographer: Sebastien Girard

TV-2 news anchor Kellie Burns recounts her recent news trip to Hait with Bill Barnett, mayor of Naples, and event committee member Ursula Pfahl. Sebastien Girard

Naples City Council: The council did only play musical chairs: John Sorey is the mayor after being a councilman; Bill Barnett, who people still call mayor, is now a councilman; and Dee Sulick and Teresa Heitmann survived a challenge from former councilwoman Penny Taylor in the election.

Much like the increase in traffic in December, our beautiful weather and the sand on the beaches, nothing has changed at the Naples City Council.

Broxson award winner, Sammy Watkins, South Fort Myers Football Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Broxson award winner, Sammy Watkins, South Fort Myers Football Greg Kahn/Staff

Sammy Watkins: The former South Fort Myers high football standout got suspended for two games by his team Clemson for a drug arrest. He didn't live up to his spectacular freshman year. He didn't sniff any Heisman Trophy consideration with only two games of over 100 yards receiving and only four touchdowns on the season for the Tigers.

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