Naples City Council member Ted Blankenship will hold a campaign kickoff for his run for Mayor on Monday night in Baker Park.
The longtime business executive will give up his seat on the Naples City Council to run.
“I’ve enjoyed my time on Council, but I thought our Council has gotten a good way off track,” he said. “Similar to other parts of the country, we are not focusing on what matters most to residents and tend to micro-manage a lot of other affairs in the city.”
Blankenship will challenge Mayor Teresa Heitmann, who won the office in 2020 unseating Bill Barnett. In the same election, Blankenship won his seat on the council edging out multiple incumbents.
But particularly in the wake of Hurricane Ian last year, Blankenship said he was frustrated by various decisions, including the cancellation of some long-standing events while a controversial Pride event went forward.
“That was the wrong event at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said. “People were frustrated and weren’t being heard through that process.”
A campaign video online Monday morning touched on that issue and rising property tax rates. Blankenship said he was frustrated at budget hearings this year when City Council members wanted to hike tax rates even though rising property values already increased property tax revenue by 12% in a year.
He also took issue with shifts in building regulations that took place when people were rebuilding homes after the hurricane, an event that flooded Blankenship’s own home. That decisions on the building were being made both while many standard homeowners were engaging the process and while few could attend council meetings to debate or even hear about the issues was a poor move, Blankenship said.
But he stressed building and zoning decisions, while promoting the most attention on City Hall, are only part of leading the community.
“We spend a lot of time talking about protecting the small-town charm of Naples. I definitely support and believe in that, but it’s more than focusing on buildings,” Blankenship said. “A lot of time we spend distracted and focusing on redevelopment projects and how buildings look; we could focus more on our charm and on promoting our values, our environment, our economy and on making it an engaging city where residents feel like they are heard.”
Before his time in office, Blankenship worked as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the world’s top accounting firms. He has worked as a chief financial officer at other companies including Orlando-based ZeroChaos and Naples-based The InfiLaw System.
Heitmann is expected to seek re-election. In addition to Blankenship, former City Councilman Gary Price has also filed. Candidate qualification ends on Jan. 19.
A winner-takes-all election will be held on March 19.