Recount confirms Teresa Heitmann as winner of Naples mayoral race
Teresa Heitmann seeks a quick fix for rebuilding after the summer's hurricanes.

theresa heitmann
A manual recount showed Berne Barton won a Naples City Council race.

Mayor Teresa Heitmann won re-election following an expensive race that ran into overtime. A hand recount later confirmed Berne Barton won a Naples City Council race.

The conclusion of a recount by the Collier County Supervisor of Elections brings a protracted and expensive Mayor election to a close.

Heitmann faced two challengers as she ran for re-election, former City Councilman Gary Price and sitting City Councilman Ted Blankenship. On Election Day, results showed Heitmann led Price by just 12 votes, around 0.1% of all votes cast, and a tight enough margin to trigger a recount.  

Of note, Heitmann’s lead grew to 22 votes after the counting of accepted provisional ballots and the curing of several vote-by-mail ballots initially left uncounted for bad signatures.

When a machine recount was conducted on Saturday, it confirmed that result, and Heitmann won with 3,269 votes to Price’s 3,247. Blankenship received 2,049 votes.

The victory, while small, was enough to conclude the election without triggering a manual recount.

Meanwhile, a City Council election was held concurrently with the Mayor’s race, with six candidates competing for three spots on the board. Bill Kramer and Linda Penniman won seats by clear margins on Election Day.

But a tight margin betweenBarton and Tony Perez-Benitoa pushed the contest for the third seat into a recount as well.

A 33-vote lead for Barton on Election Day grew to a 35-vote lead with the counting of provisional and cured ballots on Friday. But the margin remained at about 0.2% of all votes cast.

A machine recount showed Barton’s lead at 34 votes. But that total was still close enough to prompt a hand recount of the votes. Florida law requires a machine recount of votes if the margin remains within 0.5% of all votes cast, and a hand recount if the margin remains with 0.25% after that.

The final results after all recounts showed Barton received 3,686 votes to Perez-Benitoa’s 3,652, confirming the 34-vote lead.

Heitmann spent about $64,000 through March 14 defending her seat and still had $50,000 in cash on hand for the final stretch. Price spent $284,000 through March 14, with another $11,000 still on deck to spend to close out the election cycle.

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].

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 24, 2024 at 8:09 pm

    So much dark PAC money and real estate developer money, yet Price still lost. There’s hope for Florida yet!

Comments are closed.


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