2024 Collier County Primary Election Endorsed Candidates

2024 Collier County Primary Election Endorsed Republican Candidates

Background on Endorsement Process

The CCCVPAC consists of dedicated, long-standing Republicans, including three former Republican Party chairmen and representatives from the five Collier County Republican Clubs active last year.

Historically, the CCCVPAC has focused on rating candidates rather than issuing endorsements. This year, however, marks a significant change. The local Republican Executive Committee (CCREC) has adopted a more authoritarian stance, aiming to oust many current elected officials, revoke charters of established Republican clubs, and implement divisive tactics against those with differing opinions. This approach has driven away many long-standing members and could deter potential candidates, ultimately weakening our conservative representation.

In response, the CCCVPAC has provided its own endorsements this election season, offering conservative voters an alternative perspective that may differ from the CCREC. It’s important to note that the CCREC represents only a small fraction of Collier County Republicans.

While Collier County enjoys competent local governance, replacing experienced officials with angry, inexperienced individuals to address national issues could undermine our community’s standards.

Recognizing our diverse conservative base, the CCCVPAC board decided to endorse candidates only if they received a 60% or higher approval vote. Otherwise, we present the top picks. Below are the CCCVPAC’s endorsements as they appear on the ballot. Those who won’t be active until the November ballot have been left off. We are not allowed by law to endorse candidates for Federal Office.

Below are the endorsements voted by the CCCVPAC board in the order they appear on the ballot.

Yvette Benarroch

State Representative District 81 – Yvette Benarroch

Yvette Benarroch, a US Air Force veteran who served during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, is a mom, small business owner, and grassroots conservative leader. She leads the Collier County chapter of Moms for Liberty, fighting to keep radical left ideology out of our schools. As co-owner of Affordable Landscaping Service & Design, LLC, and a licensed realtor, Yvette understands the importance of a strong economy, good jobs, low taxes, and excellent schools. She has engrained herself in Republican circles through participation and active work, as well as an officer with the Florida Federation of Republican Women.

Yvette has demonstrated her conservative values through her roles as Neighborhood Team Leader for both Trump Victory and Latinos for Trump 2020 campaigns, and for Governor DeSantis’s 2022 re-election campaign. She served as Vice Chairwoman for the Collier County GOP from 2020-2022 and is actively involved in numerous Republican organizations.

Yvette lives in Marco Island, Florida, with her husband, two teenage sons, and two Golden Retrievers. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University.

Yvette Benarroch has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.

Collier County Property Appraiser – Vickie Downs

Vickie Downs has familiarity in the appraiser’s office and has technical skills to bring the property appraiser to a new level. She is endorsed by current and long serving Property Appraiser Abe Skinner. Opponent Jim Molenaar has too checkered of a past to represent the values most of us share. See the reasons on Molenaar here.

With over 30 years of experience in the Collier County Property Appraiser’s office, she has a strong understanding of the intricacies of property assessment and valuation. She started at the bottom and worked to climb the ranks, and is now serving as Chief Deputy, shaping the office’s policies and practices.

Over the years, she’s responsible for managing all technical processes within the office. Additionally, she’s played a key role in fostering strong relationships between the offices of various Collier County departments, including constitutional officers, addressing, permitting, growth management, and building and zoning.

Vickie Downs has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.

Collier County Supervisor of Elections – Melissa Blazier

Melissa Blazier is the current Supervisor of Elections, appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2023.  She is endorsed by her predecessor, Jennifer Edwards, who appointed her the Chief Deputy 7 years ago.  As Chief Deputy Melissa has been responsible for conducting every election since 2016 and has performed exemplary.  Her consistent implementation of Florida statutes resulted in several recounts and reviews of election results ALL confirming the effectiveness and efficiency of Collier County ballots.

Melissa is a certified Elections/Registration Administrator (CERA) from the National Association of Election Officials (Election Center) and is a Master Florida Certified Elections Professional (MFCEP) through the Florida Supervisors of Elections (FSE).

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, magna cum laude, from Hodges University.

She grew up in Naples and graduated from Naples High School. She has been married to her husband Devon for 24 years and they have a son.  She is a graduate of the Associate Leadership Collier program (2010), the Leadership Collier program (2014) and the Leadership Marco class of 2019.  She has been named one of Gulf Shore Business’s Top Forty under 40, Distinguished Fundraising volunteer and Leadership Collier Volunteer of the year.  In 2022 she was named the Kiwanian of the Year by the Kiwanis Club of Naples.

She is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Post 135, Election Center, iGO, Kiwanis Club of Naples, Leadership Collier Alumni Association, League of Women Voters, Naples Reagan Club, Republican Women of Southwest Florida Federated, and the Women’s Republican Club of Naples Federated.  She currently serves on the Leadership Collier Foundation Advisory Council and is President of the Kiwanis Club of Naples.

Melissa Blazier’s leadership and engagement in many successful elections in Collier County. Collier County us regarded as the Gold Standard for Florida, her community engagement and certification has earned her our CCCVPAC endorsement.

Melissa Blazier has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.

Burt Saunders

Collier County Commissioner District 3 – Burt Saunders

Burt Saunders, Collier County resident since 1982, has served with common-sense and transparent leadership, delivering practical results for our community. As a former County Attorney, State Representative and State Senator, Saunders brings decades of practical public service experience to our County Commission. He is running for re-election to continue making Collier the best place to raise a family and start a business.

Saunder’s work to bring a veterans nursing home and a VA campus began in 2016 and he needs to finish this best in class project in his next term.

Burt Saunders has continuously proven his ability to move the needle for projects. His years of proven experience at navigating the bureaucratic process of government gave him the nod over his often opponents who mean well but didn’t have the answers when questioned in candidate forums. He stands head and shoulders above his Republican opponents.

Burt Saunders has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.


William L McDaniel

Collier County Commissioner District 5 – William L McDaniel

Bill McDaniel has a longstanding record of leadership in our community, through both business and civic engagement. He launched his first business, The Realty Company, in 1987 and currently owns Big Island Excavating Inc., a mining company with an office located in District 5 in eastern Collier County, and Lazy Springs Recreation Park in Fort Myers. McDaniel employs more than 35 Floridians.

Bill was a founding director of Marine National Bank in 1999, located in Collier County, and served as a director for two banks until 2007.

William L McDaniel shines over his opponent in his knowledge of the issues and finding a direction to move forward in a conservative manner, very mindful of reducing the tax burden on citizens and business alike.

Williman L McDaniel has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.



State Committeeman – Douglas “Doug” Rankin

Doug Rankin is running to return to the office of Republican State Committeeman.  An office he held from 2008-2020.  While serving in those years Doug served as Chairman or Vice Chairman of his congressional district caucus and as such served on the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Executive Board.  He never missed a meeting during his years of service.

As state committeeman Attorney Rankin represents the Republicans of Collier County at the state level and participates on committees and caucuses to advocate for our values.  He is passionate about his mission.

We see Doug as the best opportunity to bring reason to the local party and lessen the deep divisions and rancor that currently exists locally, and also at the state and federal levels

Doug Rankin has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC

State Committeewoman – JoAnn DeBartolo and Kristina S Heuser 

In this race, neither candidate achieved the margin required to receive CCCVPAC endorsement, so we are listing both candidates.

JoAnn DeBartolo

JoAnn DeBartolo has engrained herself in Republican party activity and become a workhorse for tirelessly reaching out to voters to get Trump elected in 2016, 2020 and now again in 2024.

DeBartolo is the current State Committeewoman and diligently attends the functions to fulfill her duties to Collier County in representing our community to the State party.

JoAnn and Tom Ravana founded the Patriots for Florida club, which evolved from the Patriots for Trump Club in the 2016 election.

She has been an avid Trump supporter, as well as advocating for Governor Ron DeSantis.

If working the phones is a top priority – she deserves the nod.


Kristina S Heuser

Kristina S. Heuser

Kristina Heuser touts her credentials as a constitutional scholar, and her background and efforts bear that out. She is the former Chief Litigation Counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom, and currently serves as Legal Counsel to the American Constitutional Rights Union and as an Allied Attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom.

She’s recently played an active role in shaping Collier County and beyond, serving on the Collier County Republican Executive Committee, and recently appointed to the Board of Trustees of Florida Southwestern State College.

She’s been an active participant, and advocate for numerous conservative issues in the area and regularly speaks to elected officials to implement conservative values.


20th Judicial Circuit Court  (Group 6) – Erik Leontiev

Judge Erik Leontiev

Judge Erik Leontiev (Group 6) has garnered tremendous support from the judicial and attorney world and has proven himself to warrant re-election.

Judge Erik Leontiev is a first-generation American. His father enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces and served in the military his entire career.

Growing up a military brat, Judge Leontiev moved extensively, living in Europe, Central America, and three distinct regions of the United States before settling in Florida in 1999.

Judge Leontiev received his bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and his law degree from the University of Miami School of Law.

In April of 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis chose Judge Leontiev to serve on the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court after previously appointing him as Judge on the Lee County Court in 2021. During his tenure as County Judge, Leontiev presided over civil cases, evictions, small claims, and traffic infractions. Judge Leontiev also served as Chairman of the Lee County Canvassing Board for the 2022 Primary and General Elections.

Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Leontiev served 14 years as an Assistant State Attorney for the Twentieth Judicial Circuit. He held positions in the Postconviction, Sexually Violent Predators, Special Victims, and Economic Crimes Units, prosecuting cases in Collier, Lee, Charlotte and Hendry Counties.

Judge Leontiev is happily married and the proud father of seven children. When not on the bench, he enjoys reading, fishing, working on cars, and spending time outdoors with his family.

Judge Erik Leontiev has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.

20th Judicial Circuit Court  (Group 28) – Elizabeth Krier 

Judge Elizabeth Krier

Judge Elizabeth Krier has garnered tremendous support from the judicial and attorney world and has proven herself to warrant re-election.

Judge Krier was elected to the Circuit Court of Florida’s Twentieth Judicial Circuit in September of 2006 and took office in January of 2007. She has been re-elected without opposition in 2012 and 2018. Judge Krier has served in the felony, civil and probate, domestic violence, dependency, and family law divisions in Naples, Florida and in the civil division in Fort Myers, Florida. She is currently presiding over 60% of criminal felony cases in Naples and 25% of Probate and Guardianship cases. Judge Krier’s circuit court position was preceded by her work as a magistrate from January of 2005 through December of 2006. As a Magistrate, she presided over civil discovery proceedings and family law, dependency and probate hearings and trials.

Since taking office, Judge Krier has assumed a leadership role in the Twentieth Circuit and the State of Florida. She served as a member of Florida’s Statewide Dependency Court Improvement Panel, as the Chair of the Twentieth Circuit’s Long-Range Planning Committee, as co-chair of the Twentieth Circuit’s Dependency Model Court Committee, as a member of the Florida Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Judge Krier graduated with a BA from the University of Chicago and received her JD from Chicago Kent College of Law. She moved to Naples, Florida in 1985. During her 21-year legal career prior to her judicial service, Judge Krier practiced in the areas of marital and family law, and criminal law as a domestic and sexual violence prosecutor.

Throughout her legal career, Judge Krier has been involved in Bar activities for the Florida Bar, the Collier County Bar and the Family Law Sections of both.

Judge Krier is also active in community organizations and activities. She has served as a trustee at North Naples United Methodist Church, has been a member of the North Naples Rotary, is a graduate of Leadership Collier and Leadership Southwest Florida.

Judge Elizabeth Krier has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.

Collier County School Board District 2 – Stephanie Lucarelli

Stephanie Lucarelli

Stephanie Lucarelli is the current School Board member serving District 2.  She was initially elected in 2016 and reelected without opposition in 2020.

Stephanie grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science degree.  She then completed post graduate work to achieve a NJ State Science Teaching Certificate.  Teaching 7th and 8th grade science students.

Ms. Lucarelli and her husband, Dominic, moved to Naples in 2002.  They have 4 children all who have or are attending Collier County Public Schools.  She has served as a guest teacher in our public schools since 2013 and has volunteered countless hours at various schools since 2004.  She is a graduate of Leadership Collier and Leadership Florida and has been awarded Certified Board Member status several times through the FL School Board Association.

Recently, Lucarelli helped the Education Foundation of Collier County fill the position of Chief Operating Officer.  She chaired the search committee and coordinated the national search.

During her tenure on the board she led the effort to redraw school boundaries with the opening of Aubrey Rogers High School.  Most recently the board has established a Spending Reductions Workgroup while also approving a record increase for teacher salaries.  They have implemented a phonics program in the elementary schools and approved new social studies textbooks.

Ms. Lucarelli should be reelected in order to continue the improvements made in the past several years.

Stephanie Lucarelli has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.

Collier County School Board District 4 – Erick Carter

Erick Carter

Erick Carter was also elected initially in 2016 and reelected without opposition in 2020.  During his tenure the district has conducted business with financial acuity and remain on track to be Debt-Free by 2026 even with the continued building to accommodate the student growth in Collier County.

Erick grew up in South Carolina.  He was active in school government in high school and served as the student liaison to the Dorchester County School Board and Superintendent.  He attended Trident Technical College in North Charleston pursuing a career in the performing arts.  Erick achieved recognition in Shakespearean theatre.  He then became a ballroom dance instructor with a national company and had the opportunity to teach in Naples where he met his wife, Anita Ruiz.  They have been married for 25 years and have a son, Blake, who is a graduate of Naples High School.

Erick studied cosmetology and graduated from Lorenzo Walker Technical College which led to he and Anita opening their successful local business, Salon Zenergy.

Work needs to be continued to not only maintain but improve the Collier County School District performance.

With Stephanie and Erick along with Chair Kelly Mason the current superintendent was promoted in 2023.  Success has followed as noted above and also includes revising the Student Code of Conduct, implementing a board level Audit Committee, and completion of Maser Board Training.

Erick Carter has earned the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.

Going forward these 2 candidates wish to continue their fiscal efforts with

  • A Tax Neutral Referendum
  • 2025 budget adoption
  • Open more career pathways through Technical Colleges
  • Approval of a new and improved strategic plan.
  • Opening of Bear Creek Elementary
  • Boundary modification approval in advance of the opening of a new school

For the reasons and examples above along with their experience and performance as sitting Collier County School Board members along with their dedication to continuous improvement has earned them the endorsement of the CCCVPAC.

Greater Naples Fire Rescue District Ballot Amendment for .5 Mil Increase in Property Taxes.

Ballot Question: Soley for the construction of new fire stations and facilities, existing facilities improvements, and purchase of apparatus technology, and equipment, shall the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District be authorized to increase its currently authorized millage rate from 1.5 mills ($1.50 for every $1000.00 of assessed value) approved in 2014, up to 2.0 mills ($2000 for every $1000.00 of assessed value), for an 8 year period, with such revenues held in a capital improvement account?

Reasoning for voting No:

The current method of operating fire districts is changing rapidly, as 85% of calls for service are for medical. Yet the district sends big $1.5 million ladder trucks loaded with three personnel to service calls that only require someone to be picked up at a nursing home facility. The GG Fire District has not cooperated with other districts who would like to share facilities, such as North Collier Fire District who would like to share an area that is close to their service area, thereby reducing capital expenditures by the district.

Ad Valorum tax revenues have more than doubled over the past few years, and impact fee tax collections have skyrocketed. There is not a revenue problem, there is a spending problem. There has been poor planning on capital expenditures as capital expenditures are generally done on a whim, versus planning with depreciated units and a planned calendar for replacement. This includes having fire personnel working in unsafe facilities while capital is used for other less priority items.

The Greater Naples Fire District should show by example they can operate on a more strategic manner before taking more money from already struggling taxpayers as they learn to be better stewards of their money.

Make Your Voice Heard in the Naples City Election!

Attention Naples Residents! The Vote-By-Mail ballots for the Presidential Primary are out, and this is your chance to shape the future of our beloved city. In the 2022 election, 5,652 ballots were sent out in the city, but this year, there’s been a 45% drop, with only 3,089 mailed last week.

Your Vote Matters – Request Your Vote-By-Mail Ballot Now!
Don’t let the opportunity slip away. If you prefer voting by mail, there’s still time! Due to the new rule, you must request a Vote-By-Mail ballot. Click here to secure your chance to influence the outcome.

Naples City Council – Your Decision Matters!
Whether you want to maintain the current direction or bring about change, your vote holds the power. Naples City Council plays a crucial role in our community, and your voice matters in selecting the Mayor and City Council members.

2024 Ballot Candidates:
Check out the list of candidates on the 2024 ballot here. Familiarize yourself with their visions for our city.

A Call for Change:
The community has raised an unprecedented amount of campaign funds for a slate of candidates. This funding included Gary Price for Mayor, and Berne Barton, William E. Kramer, and Tony Perez-Benitoa for City Council. That is a strong showing of many in the community wanting to make big changes in the way the city is currently operating. Whether you support their mission or have a different vision, now is the time to make your choice. This group aims to take out Current mayor Teresa L. Heitmann and current city councilor Edward (Ted) H. Blankenship who are both running for the mayor position. Obviously, there will be a change in Naples City Council as no incumbents are running to keep their seat.

Important Dates and How to Vote:


ALL Vote-by-Mail requests from 2022 have expired.

Voters can request, update and track their Vote-by-Mail ballot at www.CollierVotes.gov/RequestBallot.

The deadline for the Collier County Supervisor of Elections to receive a request to mail a Vote-by-Mail ballot is March 7, 2024. Any registered voter can vote by mail. Formerly known as “absentee voting,” voters no longer need an excuse to cast their ballot by mail. Voting by mail is an easy and convenient way to make your voice heard in the next election. Voters can request their Vote-by-Mail ballot online or by contacting the Supervisor of Elections office.

Early Voting

  • Begins:  Saturday, March 9, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.
  • Ends:      Saturday, March 16, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Early voting:  Locations and addresses can be found at Colliervotes.gov/Election-Info/Vote-Early.
  • Early voting:  Site within the City of Naples is the Norris Center located at 755 8th Ave S, Naples FL  34102.

What to Bring to The Voting Site 

Florida Statute 101.043 requires a person to bring a photo and signature identification before a person can vote. The acceptable forms of identification are:

  • Florida Driver License
  • Florida ID Card (Issued by DHSMV)
  • U.S. Passport
  • Debit or Credit Card

If your photo ID does not include your signature, you will be asked to provide another ID that has your signature. If you do not bring your ID, you may still vote, however, you will be required to vote a provisional ballot, which will later be evaluated by a canvassing board for eligibility.

Let’s ensure Naples City reflects our collective aspirations. Your vote is not just a right; it’s a responsibility. Share this message, encourage your neighbors, and let’s make a difference in our community.

Naples City Elections Update: The Battle Unveiled!

The Naples City elections are set to be a showdown like never before, with candidates revealing their cards and alliances. Let’s dive into the latest updates and intriguing details:

Mayoral Race: Clash of Titans

  • Ted Blankenship: Fearless and self-invested, Blankenship has raised a formidable $34,009.80, including a $15,000 loan from the man himself. With spending at $22,489.22, he’s aiming high.
  • Teresa Heitmann: A self-backed powerhouse, Heitmann storms in with $48,579.74, including a $5,000 loan from her own reserves. Watch out for her strategic moves, having spent $12,687.
  • Gary Price: The financial giant in the mayoral ring, Price is a fundraising maestro with $188,275 in his war chest. With spending at $73,936, he’s playing big in this high-stakes game.

City Council Race: A Symphony of Strategies

  • Berne Barton: With $57,399.86 in the bank and strategic spending at $6,570.24, Barton is weaving a political masterpiece.
  • Garey Cooper: A self-invested visionary, Cooper has put up $1,500 (loan to himself) and strategically spent $1,494. A newcomer with potential.
  • Nicholas M Del Rosso: Maintaining a mysterious silence, Del Rosso keeps his cards close, revealing nothing at this stage.
  • William E Kramer: A financial force to be reckoned with, Kramer boasts $63,875 in funds, having spent $7,069.25 strategically. He’s a key player in the council chessboard.
  • Linda Penniman: A self-supporting dynamo, Penniman has injected $10,200 (loan $9,000 to herself) into her campaign, spending $3,775.95 wisely. She’s making her mark.
  • Tony Perez-Benitoa: With $46,435 in the war chest and strategic spending at $9,636.36, Perez-Benitoa is a strategic player in this political chess game.

Alliances Revealed: United for Change

A game-changing mailer unveils alliances that could reshape Naples City. Gary Price for Mayor has strategically allied with William E Kramer, Berne Barton, and Tony Perez-Benitoa for City Council. A united front against dysfunction.

The Voter Turnout Dilemma

As the battleground heats up, it’s crucial to note that Naples City has seen voter turnout fluctuations, ranging from a mere 28% to a high of 50%. The key to victory? Mobilizing the electorate. This race isn’t just about the best candidate—it’s about getting the voters to the polls.

Stay tuned for more updates as the Naples City elections unfold, coinciding with the Presidential primary election. The stage is set, alliances are formed, and the voters hold the power to shape the future of Naples City!

Republicans in Florida Grow their Lead Over Democrats

Florida Republicans added over 81,000 registered voters to their lead over state Democrats for December 2023, according to Florida Division of Elections.

As of Dec. 31, 2023, Republicans lead Democrats by 779,701 voters. From November, the party’s lead extended by 81,779 voters. In total, there are 5,141,848 Republicans in the state to 4,362,147 Democrats.

This lead represents the largest single-month net gain since the 2022 election.

However, both parties have lost voters since the end of 2022, Republicans have lost around 183,000, Democrats have lost over 600,000 – a staggering three times more.

As of December 31st, Florida is now 38.5% Republican, 32.7% Democrat and 26.4% No Party Affiliation.

This wide margin comes as the 2024 election year begins, with Republicans having a never before voter registration lead heading into a presidential election cycle.

Former President Donald Trump won Florida by several points in 2020 when Republicans trailed Democrats in registrations by just under 100,000.

He also won the state in 2016 when there were close to 600,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Senator Kathleen Passidomo Week in Review Dec 8

On Thursday, during our annual holiday breakfast with the Capitol Press Corps, I was proud to unveil my Live Healthy proposal to strengthen health care in the Sunshine State. Senator Colleen Burton, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Policy, and Senator Gayle Harrell, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services, joined me to announce the Live Healthy package, which includes policies and funding to grow Florida’s health care workforce, increase access to care, and incentivize innovation.

Access to health care is important at every phase of life.  Insurance does not guarantee access, as even Floridians with great insurance face barriers to care.

Live Healthy will expand Florida’s health care workforce with new opportunities for education, training and retention.  This includes enhancing partnerships between our hospitals and Florida colleges and universities that train health care workers.  It also creates more residency slots and creative loan repayment options that drive providers to underserved areas.  We want to make sure our medical school graduates stay in Florida and also attract more out-of-state residents – not only for their residencies but to build their lives and medical practices right here in our communities.

We are also funding provider increases that incentivize our health care workers to continue serving in high-demand fields like mental health, labor and delivery, and disabilities.

We know that our hospital emergency rooms are the most expensive real estate in our state. Live Healthy will help streamline emergency departments by creating partnerships with Community Health Centers and other primary care settings so that when care is urgently needed, but not life threatening, it can be provided outside of the hospital emergency room in a more efficient and appropriate setting. Live Healthy also expands access to preventive health screenings to ensure early diagnosis and better management of chronic disease for all Floridians.

Legislation that is part of the Live Healthy package will be considered during the Senate Committee on Health Policy on Tuesday, December 12.  Additional legislation will be filed in the coming weeks.

Streamlining Rural Development

Tuesday, Senate Bill 196, sponsored by Senator Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee), passed the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism. Senate Bill 196 removes burdensome restrictions on regional economic development organizations and allows for increased access to rural development funding.

This legislation removes matching requirements on rural development grants allowing for fiscally constrained counties and regions to receive critical funding for economic development without negatively impacting their own finances.

Access to these grants is often limited by a county’s ability to collect taxes from their own citizens. By removing these requirements, we can improve the quality of life in rural communities without the need for burdensome taxes.

Ensuring that Florida’s rural communities have the necessary tools to establish diverse, resilient economies is critically important for the many families, farmers, and family- owned businesses, who call rural Florida home.


Supporting Florida’s National Guard

Wednesday, Senate Memorial 226, sponsored by Senator Tom Wright (R-New Smyrna Beach), passed the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security. Senate Memorial 226 urges the United States Congress to expand the Florida National Guard’s Force Allocation.

Florida is the 3rd most populous state in the country, yet has only 12,000 soldiers and airmen in our National Guard, a ratio of one guardsman for every 1,833 Floridians. Due to Florida’s active hurricane season and the consistent need for mobilization, it is clear that an increased National Guard Force Allocation is critical to effectively respond to disasters and ensure the safety of Floridians.

In addition to our current needs, Florida’s population continues to rapidly grow, outpacing the nation in net in-migration. This increase in population will only further amplify the issues facing Florida’s National Guard and exacerbate the need for additional guardsman.

The health and safety of Floridians is critical, especially in the face of natural disasters that frequently impact our state. By refusing to expand the Florida’s National Guard Force Allocation, Washington D.C. is playing political games with the health and safety of over 20 million Americans.


Raising Awareness For Opioid Addiction 

Tuesday, Senate Bill 66, sponsored by Senator Jason Brodeur, passed the Senate Committee on Health Policy. Senate Bill 66 creates “Victoria’s Law”, raising awareness of the dangers of opioid addiction and to the availability of medical treatments to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on communities across the State of Florida and the entire country. Throughout the first 6 months of 2022, Florida experienced almost four thousand deaths from opioid overdoses. The fentanyl that flows across America’s wide-open southern border is a leading cause of these deaths.

This legislation encourages the Florida Department of Health to hold events to boost attention relating to the dangers of an opioid overdose and how to administer Naloxone, an emergency opioid antagonist better known as Narcan, which reverses the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose. In order to increase awareness, Senate Bill 66 allows the Governor to designate June 6 as Naloxone Awareness Day.


Advancing Florida’s Balanced Budget

Wednesday, a number of state agencies appeared before each Senate Appropriations subcommittee to present the Governor’s recommended budget for the 2024-2025 Fiscal Year.

The Governor’s proposed budget includes historic funding for K-12 Education, significant investments in infrastructure, and critical relief for Floridians struggling with property insurance costs. Additionally, the proposed budget recommends over $1 billion in tax relief for Floridians, dedicates almost $500 million to reduce debt, and maintains $16.3 billion in reserves.

The Governor’s Office will present the proposed budget before the full Senate Appropriations Committee on December 12. The Senate and House will review and consider the Governor’s proposed budget before drafting their own proposed budgets for the 2024-2025 Fiscal Year.


As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office any time that I can be of assistance.


Kathleen C. Passidomo

Senate President
State Senator, District 28

Naples Office:

3299 East Tamiami Trail
Suite 203
Naples, FL 34112

LaBelle Office:

25 East Hickpochee Avenue
Room J-101
LaBelle, FL 33935

Tallahassee Office:

409 The Capitol
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399

November 2024 Election Update for Collier County

Russell Tuff
Chairman, CCCVPAC

What’s New in the 2024 Election Cycle in Collier County, Florida?

In the upcoming City of Naples mayoral race, three candidates are vying for the position. Notably, Bill Kramer, the renowned former football coach of Naples High, has filed as the sole candidate for the three city council seats.

In the county, there is a change in leadership for the position of Property Appraiser, as the long-serving 99-year-old Abe Skinner has not filed for re-election. However, Julian L. Stokes, son of his longtime assistant by the same name, has stepped forward as a candidate. Additionally, four individuals, all registered Republicans, have entered the race for Collier County Commission seat 3, currently held by Commissioner Burt Saunders.

Collier County’s political landscape boasts 134,378 registered Republicans, 53,684 Democrats, 66,892 No Party Affiliation or other. Statewide, as of October 31st, there are 5,153,695 registered Republicans, 4,473,665 Democrats, and 3,925,923 registered as Other, marking a significant 680,030 Republican advantage over Democrats in Florida. It’s noteworthy that Florida, prior to November 2021, had more Democrats than Republicans.

A notable development is the launch of the Democrat Party of Florida’s $1 Million Voter initiative a month ago. Despite this effort, Republicans lead registered Democrats by 111,979, indicating that the Democrat message may not be resonating effectively in Florida.

As the March election approaches, including the presidential primary and the City of Naples election, it’s crucial to stay informed. For a complete list of offices up for election in Collier County, Click Here. To access the list of declared Republican candidates on the ballot, Click Here.

City of Naples Issues:
Examining the issues relevant to the City of Naples, the governance of the current City Council emerges as a focal point. Concerns have surfaced regarding excessive oversight of city staff, diverting their focus from receiving clear directives from the city administrator and promptly taking action. The frequency and duration of council meetings have also raised questions about their impact on staff productivity.

Notably, some council members appear to reiterate their rationales for support or denial, even after decisions have been reached, suggesting a desire to be heard at the expense of efficiency. These concerns shed light on the challenges facing the City of Naples as the election cycle unfolds.

Florida Becomes More Republican – Florida Republican Chairman – Christian Ziegler


October’s Voter Registration Numbers are OUT and it was a REALLY bad month for Florida Democrats.

Click here to view county by county registration numbers

As of October 31, 2023:

Current Registration Totals (Statewide)

  • Republican: 5,153,695 (38.03%)
  • Democrat: 4,473,665 (33.01%)
  • Other: 3,925,923 (28.97%)

The Republican Party of Florida has an advantage of 680,030 or 5.02% more than the Democrat Party 

(Remember…Prior to November of 2021, Florida has always had more Democrats than Republicans statewide…Big gains in just a couple years)

The Republican Party increased our statewide advantage by 53,512 or .46% in October alone.

Key Milestones:

  • Since President Trump was elected in 2016, Republicans have out-registered Democrats by: 1,007,468
  • Since Governor DeSantis was elected in 2018, Republicans have out-registered Democrats by: 943,299
  • Since the Florida Democrat Party launched their $1 Million Voter Registration Campaign on August 1st, Republicans have out-registered Democrats by: 111,979
  • Since January 1st, Republicans have out-registered Democrats by: 296,076 and added 2.38% to our statewide voter registration advantage.

Major Individual County Gains For October:

  • Republicans in Palm Beach (Democrat County) shrank their deficit to the Democrats by 20,031 voters.
  • Republicans in Hillsborough (Democrat County) shrank their deficit to the Democrats by 17,594 voters.

25 of the 67 Counties in Florida have flipped from Democrat to Republican (in registration) since 2016 and there are now only 10 Democrat counties left in the state.

Here are the counties expected to flip in the near future:

  • St. Lucie (1.07% away)
  • Madison (4.06% away, but that makes up just under 500 voters)
  • Hillsborough (1.92% away) and Duval (3.32% away) have had some significant gains and are close.

Historic Numbers: Florida Republicans Expand Their Lead over Democrats


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Republican voter registration lead expands by 53,000 in October alone


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Governor DeSantis Signs Legislation to Support Israel, Provide Hurricane Relief and Expand School Choice into Law.

Given recent events, including the horrific attacks against Israel in the Middle East and devastation to the Big Bend caused by Hurricane Idalia here at home, there were several issues that warranted our attention in advance of the Regular Session.  Last week, the Florida Legislature convened for Special Session C to demonstrate our support for Israel, provide critical hurricane relief and expand the capacity of the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities.

We passed four bills with overwhelming, bipartisan support, and Governor Ron DeSantis signed these measures into law this week.  I am grateful for the strong partnership we have with Governor DeSantis and House Speaker Paul Renner, which enables us to act quickly to address urgent needs of our state and nation.  Unlike the dysfunction we so often see in Washington, when challenges come our way here in Florida, our Governor, Cabinet, and Legislature work together.

House Bill 1C: Disaster Relief by Senator Corey Simon

As demonstrated after Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, the Florida Senate is committed to helping Floridians rebuild from devastating storms in every manner possible. In response to Hurricane Idalia, the Florida Senate passed House Bill 1C, providing necessary funding and tax relief to the communities who need it most. The Florida Senate is meeting the challenge to support our rural and agricultural communities that have been devastated by Hurricane Idalia.

HB 1C provides over $30 million to address the gap in federal funds, ensuring that Floridians who have been devastated by Hurricane Idalia are not left behind by the federal government.

HB 1C grants tax relief to Floridians on building material purchases, provides refunds of motor fuel taxes used for agricultural shipments and debris removal and lowers farmer’s tax bills on agricultural equipment that they cannot use due to the impact of the storm.

The legislation expands funding for rural infrastructure in impacted counties, ensuring that small towns and communities across the Big Bend are able to rebuild their farms, roads, schools, and economies.

It also expands the My Safe Florida Home Program through an additional appropriation of over $170 million. This program empowers Floridians to make their houses more resilient to natural disasters, potentially lowering insurance costs.


House Bill 3C: Family Empowerment Scholarship Program by Senator Jay Collins

Since House Bill 1 passed in the 2023 Regular Session, Florida has seen record numbers of families benefit from enhanced school choice opportunities now offered to every Floridian. House Bill 3C expands opportunities to Students with Unique Abilities, ensuring that all Florida students have access to a full array of school choice opportunities that meet their unique needs.

A record number of families have been able to receive the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA), a critical program that ensures students with unique abilities have access to school choice opportunities tailored to their needs, as determined by their parents.

HB 3C allows for a greater number of students and families to receive funding under the FES-UA program and removes the cap on funding that families can receive, increasing access and opportunity for those students with unique abilities.

To address the demand for the unique abilities portion of the Family Empowerment Scholarship, families will now have until December 15, 2023, to apply for scholarships in the current school year, in order to be funded by February 1. Ensuring adequate time to apply for and receive scholarship funding.

HB 3C provides critical support to some of our most vulnerable student populations. This legislation builds upon HB 1 passed during the 2023 Legislative Session to ensure access to quality education options, regardless of income, zip code, or circumstance.


House Bill 5C: Scrutinized Companies by Senator Bryan Avila

Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and played a critical role in the horrific terror attacks on Israel by Hamas. This legislation takes a strong stance against the Iranian regime and makes it clear that Florida in no way will support corrupt, tyrannical, and terroristic countries who diametrically oppose American national security and seek to wage proxy war through radical terrorist groups.

The Biden Administration’s unsteady leadership and failure to implement sanctions, most notably, their decision to unfreeze $6 billion to the Iranian regime, has empowered Iran to further support Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region.

With House Bill 5C, Florida is stepping up to hold the Iranian regime accountable for their support of terrorism. As is the trend, when Joe Biden falters, Florida stands up and delivers.

HB 5C expands upon current sanctions maintained by the State of Florida by requiring the state to divest all assets with companies in certain sectors that receive even a tenth of their revenue from or invest a certain dollar threshold into the listed Iranian industries. These restrictions are the strongest allowable under federal law.

This legislation ensures that the State of Florida will not invest in any companies that support the Iranian regime and their sponsorship of terrorism in the Middle East and around the globe.


House Bill 7C: Security Grants by Senator Alexis Calatayud

Through this legislation, the Florida Senate makes it clear that anti-Semitic violence has no place in Florida and we are committed to protecting Jewish Floridians from threats of violence. As the threat of anti-Semitism grows following the horrors of Hamas’ attack on Israel, the Florida Legislature is providing critical funding to keep our Jewish community safe.

Following the horrific terror attacks on Israel, there has been an increase in anti-Semitic violence across the country and even here in Florida.

The Jewish people have historically faced persecution and horrors that most can never imagine. The Florida Senate cannot stand by and let our Jewish friends, neighbors, and loved ones be in harm’s way.

No Floridian should feel scared to attend their place of worship or school. The Florida Senate is committed to protecting our Jewish neighbors from violence.

House Bill 7C appropriates $15 million to full-time Jewish Day Schools and preschools for hardening security measures and $10 million for non-hardening security measures. Funds can purchase and install security infrastructure, perimeter lighting and fencing, materials for door hardening, security cameras, barriers, blasé-resistant film, and shatter-resistant glass. This legislation also includes funding for increased security personnel and training.


Florida Leads the Way in Supporting Families and Communities

On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an unprovoked attack on Israel and brutally murdered, tortured, and raped over 1,400 innocent civilians, including women, children, and the elderly.

Florida stands firmly with the people of Israel and our own Jewish communities across the state. This resolution makes it unquestionably clear that Israel has every right to defend itself from the threats facing their people and country, and Florida will stand arm-in-arm with them as they seek victory and peace.

Senate Resolution 8C supports the right of the State of Israel to exist as a sovereign and independent nation, including the right and obligation to defend itself, with the full rights and privileges afforded to all nations under international law.

SR 8C demands the immediate end of any direct or indirect financial support of Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, or any entity that publicly supports these attacks and other terrorist activities.

This resolution rejects and condemns threats against Jewish people, institutions, and communities in Florida, the United States, and abroad.

SR 8C states that the State of Florida is proud to have the third-largest Jewish population in the United States and continues to cherish a long-standing bond and alliance with the State of Israel.


The Florida Legislature has returned to Tallahassee this week for additional committee hearings.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office any time that I can be of assistance.


Kathleen C. Passidomo

Senate President
State Senator, District 28

Election 2024 Heats Up – Who’s In and Who’s Out

Russell Tuff
Chairman, CCCVPAC

The 2024 election cycle is quickly approaching, and candidates have wasted no time in throwing their hats into the ring. Already, two candidates have filed for the position of Mayor in the City of Naples, while Collier County Commissioner has drawn interest from five potential candidates. Additionally, the role of Collier Supervisor of Elections has two contenders vying for the position.

On the ballot, Collier County residents will have the opportunity to vote for a variety of offices, including Sheriff, State Representatives, Commissioners, and more. Among these, the Collier County Commission District 3 race is proving to be one of the most hotly contested, with four candidates already in the running.

For a complete list of the offices up for election in Collier County click here.  For a list of the declared Republican candidates on the ballot, click here.

The first election is just a few months away, scheduled for March. This includes the presidential primary and the City of Naples election.

Turning our attention to the federal election, we find Naples’s very own US Senator, Rick Scott, facing off against his Democratic opponent, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. In the US House of Representatives, candidates Byron Donalds, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Scott Franklin currently have no competitors challenging them for their positions.

A competition to watch closely is the Florida State Representative seat 81, currently held by Bob Rommel. With his term set to expire, Yvette Benarroch and Greg Folley are both eager to claim this seat.

City of Naples

As we delve into the issues pertinent to the City of Naples, it becomes evident that the governance of the existing City Council is a focal point.

Concerns have arisen regarding the excessive oversight of city staff, causing them to dedicate more time to reporting to council members rather than receiving clear directives from the city administrator and promptly taking action. Moreover, the frequency of council meetings has raised questions, as it detracts staff from their primary duties. This is in addition to the marathon sessions that are far too frequent.

Another point of annoyance is that council members seem to concur on decisions but still feel compelled to reiterate their rationales for support or denial, even when the matter has already been resolved. It appears there is a desire for some council members to be heard, even at the expense of efficiency. These concerns offer valuable insights into the issues facing the City of Naples as the election cycle unfolds.

To date, only two candidates have file, and both for the Mayor position. To see the list – click here

Republican Party Gains in September

With all the chaos occurring across the world and the focus on the back & forth of the Speakers race back home, I have some great news to share about the Republican Party back here in Florida.

Little background…On August 1st, the Florida Democrat Party launched and hyped a $1 Million statewide voter registration effort.

We had been curious how their efforts would impact the state voter registration numbers and with the state releasing the official numbers today, I will share there was an impact on voter registration… As The REPUBLICAN PARTY continued to EXPAND our voter registration lead by adding another 37,588 to our margin from September 1st to September 30th. Embarrassing for the Democrats, but well deserved considering just how vile and radical the Democrat Party has become. Read below for the full story of where Florida is trending!

-Christian Ziegler
Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida

Florida GOP’s Voter Registration Surge Dominates, Leaving Democrats in the Dust!

In under five years, the political landscape of Florida has been transformed. In September alone, the Republican Party of Florida added another 37,588 to our voter registration advantage, bringing our lead over Democrats to 626,518 as of September 30. This isn’t just a shift; it’s a seismic movement. Florida doesn’t merely lean red; it radiates a deep, darker red.


“It’s evident that the Democrat Party is on the path to extinction in our state, and their recent initiatives, such as the ‘Take Back Florida’ campaign, seem more like a $1 million can of snake oil sold to their donors, rather than genuine outreach.

Despite the noise, the clear message is that Floridians cannot distance themselves fast enough from the radical Democrat Party. Why? Well, it turns out that allowing the invasion of our country from the south while indoctrinating, sexualizing & mutilating children as prominent members of their party carry Hamas’ water just isn’t popular in our state, and the monumental swing of 956,946 voter registrations toward the GOP since 2016 proves that.

This shift in voter registration is good news not just for us today but for my daughters’ generation as we further continue to establish a sanctuary of sanity and freedom here in Florida. With that said – while the momentum is no doubt on our side, there’s no room for complacency, and The Republican Party cannot relax until every Democrat is out of office and no Democrat considers running for office in Florida.” – Christian Ziegler, FloridaGOP Chairman.