Jacob Winge to host first fundraiser for Collier County Commission run
Collier County Government Center

Civic leader already raised more in contributions than competitors so far.

Civic leader Jacob Winge will host a kickoff Friday for his Collier County Commission campaign.

The Naples Republican boasts an early fundraising lead in the race for an open District 1 seat. The event supporting his candidacy takes place at Outback Steakhouse on Triangle Boulevard in Naples.

President of the East Naples Civic Association, Winge jumped on the chance to run in District 1.

In an email to Florida Politics, Winge noted a list of past office holders now backing his candidacy.

A host committee for his fundraiser includes former state Rep. Dudley Goodlette, former Collier Commissioners Jim Coletta and Barbara Berry, and Collier County School Board members Jen Mitchell and Stephanie Luccarelli. Former County Commission candidate Stephen Jaron also appears on the list.

Coletta was among those who pushed Winge to file.

“He told me I’ve got enough experience, and on the issues, I probably have more background than any candidate in 20 years,” Winge said.

That sounds odd considering Winger is all of 27 years old. But he has been involved in county issues since high school and has worked at all levels, from being on county staff to serving as a volunteer in civic groups.

The race is shaping up to be one of the hottest in Southwest Florida. Following the announcement that 20-year incumbent Donna Fiala will not seek reelection, five candidates have filed thus far. Winge figures Fiala, a personal mentor, would not run and jumped into the race in mid-July. Since then, he has raised $2,305 through the end of August. That includes about $400 in his own money so far.

It’s still early in the game, but that makes him the leader in terms of contributions.

Republican Mark Batchelor, a property manager in the area, raised $525 in August from wife, Geraldine.

Republican William Douglass, a former Greater Naples Fire Rescue District Lieutenant, filed in June and has reported just $100 so far, that money he chipped in himself.

Democrat John Jenkins has put more than $3,000 of his own money into a campaign since filing in March. But he has raised only $25 otherwise for the bid.

Winge’s biggest competition, though, may have filed just this week. Business leader Rick LoCastro announced his candidacy on Wednesday. The Marco Island Republican hasn’t reported any money yet but is expected to tap political and business allies.

But Winge’s host committee includes business leaders as well, including real estate agents Scott LePore and Charline McGee and Naples Players Marketing Director Rhona Saunders.

Winge hopes voters see the need for a candidate with roots, knowledge and long-term commitment to the region. He knows some in the retiree-rich county will judge his age. But he sees it as an asset.

“I’m the only one in this race who can look at a 50-year vision for this community and know I will still be here in 50 years to see it,” he said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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