Bill Barnett, the mayor of City of Naples, FL was very kind to meet with me and answer few questions, below is a brief recap of our conversation.
But first, a lesson in politics. The City of Naples occupies about 16.4 sq. mi and has population of 20,000 full time residents. The larger Naples Metro Area is managed by county commissioners.
The City of Naples was incorporated in 1925. An incorporated town in the United States is a municipality and has elected officials, as differentiated from an unincorporated community, which is governed by the county or state.
In the council-manager form of government, the city council is the governing body elected by the citizens.
The council hires a city manager to serve as the chief executive of the city government. With some exceptions that vary from city to city, the city manager oversees all city staff. The city manager advises the council on their decisions but has no formal authority to vote on laws enacted by the council.
Now back to my conversation with Bill Barnett.
Question: Naples is a great place to live. It is clean, safe and we have good schools. How do we make sure our quality of life does not deteriorate?
I lived in Naples for 44 years. I have been in politics for 25 years, and I can tell you we have a system in place to insure our city is exactly what we, the residents, want it to be: no bill boards, no big advertisements. We want to have a lot of green space and good zoning. The mayor and 6 council members work hard to protect our quality of life.
Question: Is it important to attract big businesses and more people to Naples, or do we want to remain a small town?
We can attract corporate headquarters to Greater Naples Metro Area, and it would be a good thing for the community. It will not happen in the city of Naples, we just don’t have the space anymore.
Question: Bill, you were elected mayor of Naples in 1996 to 2000 and again from 2004 to 2012, and again in 2016. What are the challenges facing Naples today and how are they different from challenges we faced in 1996, 2004, 2008, 2016?
The biggest challenge we face today is our tremendous growth. Collier county is being built too fast. The growth is the challenge, we don’t build the beaches, we build housing, yet people want to come here to enjoy the beach and the nature. Another problem we face – how can we efficiently manage the increasing traffic?
Question: What is your vision for Naples, what do you want Naples to be, let’s say, in 10 years from now?
In 10 years, I want to see Naples very much like it is today. In the future, with advanced technology we will be able to manage traffic better. Our residents will reuse water, so we will conserve drinking water. The old houses eventually will be replaced with new energy efficient homes. We are moving in that direction.
Question: Have you ever considered running for a Governor of Florida post?
No. I never considered it. Why should I? I like to be a local politician. I know people in Naples and people know me. I like what I am doing. I like where I am and most importantly I like our people.