OPINION

Guest opinion: Want a say in the next evolution of our community? Vote

Michael Dalby
Special to the Naples Daily News
Michael Dalby

At the Greater Naples Chamber, we believe a thriving community plays a pivotal role in sustaining our economy and cultivating economic opportunity for all.

And the city of Naples is thriving.

The city’s residents are among the happiest and healthiest in the nation; property values continue to soar; and businesses throughout the community are booming. No longer a sleepy fishing village, Naples has established itself as the premier place to live, work and play.

That shift is due, in part, to visionary leadership that understood the need to adapt and change in order to evolve, allowing the city to weather tough times and maintain its best-in-class status. The city has achieved this all while staying true to its roots, creating a welcoming environment for people who want to live and work in paradise.

We appreciate regulatory measures put in place over the years that not only allow the city to adapt to changing market demands, but also preserve Naples’ small town character. However, we are increasingly concerned about what the future holds for the city.

The 2020 election ushered in a new class of Naples City Council members, bringing a fresh set of eyes and new perspective. This new cohort of community leaders used their positions to question long established policies, debate best practices and look for new ways to improve the lives of their citizens.

We applaud Naples City Council for its dedication to quality of life issues, such as water quality and access to housing that is affordable. These are important issues that must be addressed in order for Naples to continue to flourish.

Yet, there is still much to be done. 

Naples must continue to evolve, as it has done time and time again to become the city we love today, or else it runs the risk of stifling investment, property values and the city’s economy.

We believe an active citizenry is critical to our community’s future. We regularly encourage our membership to become engaged in elections, providing members with a variety of opportunities to learn more about the candidates and initiatives on their ballot.

As we continue to think about what the future holds for our community, we need elected officials who are committed to ensuring our paradise on the coast can continue to thrive.

As the voice of business in Collier County, we encourage city residents to take every opportunity available to learn more about the candidates on the Feb. 1 ballot.

But being informed is just the first step. We also strongly encourage all eligible city residents turn out to vote in the 2022 election. Just over 50% of city residents turned out to vote in 2020 City Council elections, which coincided with the March presidential preference primary. While that far exceeded countywide turnout, it also means nearly 7,000 voters stayed at home.

City residents have no reason not to cast a ballot in this election. From vote-by-mail and early voting to showing up at your designated polling place on election day, city residents have plenty of opportunities to have their voice heard.

Elections matter. And citizens deserve a say in how they envision this next evolution of our community.

Michael Dalby is the President and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber.