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Guest Commentary: Military record falsely attacked

Rick LoCastro
Air Force (retired), U.S. Air Force Academy Graduate, Marco Island resident

Recently on social media my military record was falsely attacked … and just last week, this local newspaper published a "letter to the editor" that had more blatant lies from the same individual – a $1,000 donor of one of my opponents, William Douglass – in an attempt to disrupt my campaign for county commissioner.  These reckless distortions fabricated by supporters of one of my opponents can no longer go unchallenged.

Rick LoCastro

Transparency and truth are two important characteristics I value as a military veteran and a Collier County Commissioner candidate. I served as an Air Force colonel and in my 24 years I was a combat veteran, served two U.S. Presidents, was a base commander, a senior NATO commander and a military and East Naples hospital administrator at Physicians Regional Medical Center. 

After these false accusations, immediately at my request, two respected Veterans' group leaders, Dr. J.B. Holmes (VFW Commander) and Lee Rubenstein (American Legion Commander) separately reviewed my entire military record and confirmed every aspect of the military experience outlined in my campaign materials. After their reviews, both stated these attacks on my military record are completely without merit and to quote them on that. They also stated any suggestion otherwise is completely false.

My military record clearly outlines everything I've stated in my campaign just as both Veteran Commanders fact checked and confirmed. Those who served at the same military levels and command positions understand the unique responsibilities of a senior officer, the unique situations we are recruited for, and the multitude of responsibilities a military commander has. I'm shocked and offended at those trying to boost their candidate by totally false, frivolous, and unfounded accusations against me.

I look forward to bringing my 24-year Air Force officer leadership, as well as my deep and diverse business, healthcare, and local community experience to the District 1 County Commissioner position. As our citizens know (and especially as we see now more than ever during this time of crisis) being a county commissioner is a huge responsibility making major decisions that affect us all for years to come. Integrity, experience and qualifications matter … and we've got a lot to do in this county.

My Air Force Academy and military career taught me to be professional, honest, and not give irrelevant and erroneous claims any more of my attention. I thank Commander Holmes and Commander Rubenstein for their time, integrity, experience, and thoroughness reviewing my military record and awards. I've not changed anything in my campaign materials … and have no need to ever do so. My qualifications and experience continue to remain as always stated.

From the beginning, I've emphasized I'm running to serve our community with a professional campaign that focuses on the issues. In today’s world, we need positive and committed leaders who can rise above the mud and work hard to get the right things done.

This is not an election – it's a job interview … and integrity, qualifications, experience, and proven leadership matter. I thank the multitude of citizens endorsing and supporting me and our campaign. They know my record, and more importantly my character and integrity … and that there is no place for shameful dirty politics in this race or any other.