NAPLES — Naples Mayor Bill Barnett made another vow to his wife. This will be his final four years on City Council.
Barnett topped all candidates in the City Council election Tuesday with 29 percent of the vote. He received 5,446 votes.
Councilwomen Teresa Heitmann and Dee Sulick will join Barnett for four more years in city government. Sulick was second with 4,832 votes, totaling 26 percent of the vote. Heitmann garnered 4,379 votes for just shy of 24 percent.
Former Councilwoman Penny Taylor lost the election for one of three council seats. She brought in 3,834 votes for 21 percent.
Barnett celebrated at the Cosmos Cafe & Pizzeria in Naples. The din inside the restaurant, 536 U.S. 41 N., softened each time he took the microphone to read election updates for dozens gathered at his watch party Tuesday night.
And the applause that followed each announcement mirrored the strength of the three-time Naples mayor and former councilman's lead over his opponents. By 8 p.m. he'd taken about 29 percent of the votes returned from about half of the eligible precincts, and by 8:45 p.m. it was official; he won with 614 more votes than his closest competitor.
"Thank you, everybody," he said to supporters before addressing his wife, Chris. "One more term, honey. That's it. I promise."
The 71-year-old Naples resident will return to City Hall for a four-year term as a council member along with council incumbents Sulick and Heitmann.
After losing her chance to return to council, Taylor met with supporters at the Bayfront Inn.
"I lost, but it was a good race," Taylor said from her home around 10 p.m. Tuesday after her watch party.
Taylor said she wants to let the dust settle before she decides whether to run again for a seat in the 2014 council election.
"You want to take it slowly," she said. "You need to kind of sit back and evaluate."
Barnett said this year's win is no less exciting for him than past wins.
"This was a race. It was a contest," he said. "I worked hard, I cared about it. I wanted the job, and it also shows by the votes that I'm doing something right."
Barnett was joined by Councilmen Sam Saad, Gary Price and Doug Finlay throughout the night as well as various city leaders.
"It's everyone from Phil McCabe (owner of the Inn on Fifth) to my nephew," said Chris Barnett of who attended her husband's watch party.
Early in the night, Saad asked Barnett what he planned to do with his license plate come Feb. 15 when Mayor Elect John Sorey would be sworn in as the new city leader. Saad pointed out that his plate reads "Mayor I."
"It does not say 'Mayor 1,' " Barnett said, playfully dodging the question. "That's an 'i.'"
Sorey held a belated celebration at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club for the win he earned Nov. 22 when the filing date for the 2012 election passed and no one had signed up to run against him.
Over the noise of 200 supporters dancing in a party room at the hotel, Sorey credited them all for his inevitable victory. A band played, and a stream of people posed for pictures with him.
"This is to thank all my supporters who worked so hard and precluded anybody else getting in the race," Sorey said. "These folks are the reason I didn't have any other competition."
Sulick celebrated at the Naples Yacht Club.
"I'm exhausted," Sulick said around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, where a party of about 100 people had dwindled to a handful of remaining guests. "We're the only campaign that had volunteers at every precinct today and it paid off. I'm humbled by the support. That's sort of what makes it worth it."
Heitmann said about 100 turned out for a party she held at her home Tuesday night. She addressed the crowd for a victory speech before saying by phone that she felt her re-election was an honor.
"It feels great," she said. "I'm really looking forward to the next four years. I'm psyched and it's quite humbling ... there were three other good candidates."
Staff writer Ben Wolford contributed to this report.