Expensive Naples contests draw to a close for Naples, City Council

Fifth-Avenue-South-Naples-Florida (Large)
Will Teresa Heitmann defend her Mayor seat or will Ted Blankenship or Gary Price prevail?

A high-priced mayoral race in Naples wraps up Tuesday night, along with three of seven seats on the City Council there. So who will be staying up late watching returns this evening?

Naples Mayor

Mayor Teresa Heitmann faces two challengers, sitting Naples Council member Ted Blankenship and former Council member Gary Price.

Heitmann four years ago ousted Mayor Bill Barnett and took over City Hall at the dawn of a pandemic. Through March 14, she spent about $64,000 defending her seat but still had $50,000 in cash on hand for the final stretch. The former Naples Council member said she remains concerned about overdevelopment and will be a bulwark against environmental threats, according to her website.

Blankenship, meanwhile, has marshaled partisan support in the Collier County Republican Party and has run as the conservative choice. Through the last reporting deadline, he spent nearly $78,000 defending his seat, and entered the last days of the race with another $10,000 in the bank. He loaned himself $18,000 for the race.

Price has the support of power players including former U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney. He has spent the most on the race by far, burning through almost $284,000 through March 14, with another $11,000 still on deck to spend to close out the election cycle. He’s hoping to court voters who want change but value his institutional knowledge.

City Council

Naples voters will elect three other Naples City Council members tonight out of a six-person field. With Blankenship leaving his seat to run for Mayor, the race has no incumbents running.

Candidates include Berne Barton, Garey Cooper, Nicholas Del Rosso, William Kramer, Linda Penniman and Tony Perez-Benitoa. The top three vote-getters win seats.

This also has been a high-priced affair, with every candidate through March 14 spending more than five figures on the race.

Barton has spent nearly $82,000 running for the seat. Kramer chucked more than $70,000 into the race. Perez-Benitoa spent more than $47,000 and counting. Penniman has burned through nearly $41,000. Cooper poured in more than $14,000 so far. Del Rosso spent upward of $11,000.

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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