Andy Solis was very kind to meet with me and answer few questions, below is a brief recap of our conversation. I learned a lot! AndySolis

Question: Does collier county “live within its budget”? How important is it to have a balanced budget?

Collier County lives within its budget. It is very important and we are conservative in our spending. We fully paid our debt during the recession years of 2007-2008. Of course, debt is necessary to fund our many important projects and we pay it as we go.

Question: What is your position on the off shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?

I do not support the off shore drilling. We don’t need it at this point. There are plenty of alternatives and better ways to extract oil.

Question: How important to you is to protect our environment? There are more harmful chemicals allowed in the drinking water.

It is very important to protect our environment. Our beautiful beaches and nature bring tourism to Collier County. The quality of Collier County’s tap water is very good. In fact, we won several prizes for best tasting water in the state.

Question: What is your position on the big farm polluters and the ensuing red tide problem?

We have to address Lake Okeechobee problem; we waited too long. We need to protect our biggest asset- the water, the beaches. We are building the reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to address that problem.

Question: What do you do to create more jobs in Collier County?

We have several business accelerator programs in Naples. The Naples Accelerator headed by director Dr. Marshall Goodman provides small businesses with mentorship from industry leaders, networking opportunities, access to investors and sales leads. The Naples Accelerator also provides small businesses with offices and conference rooms. Many European businesses migrated to Naples with the help of Naples Accelerator.

We also have Collier County Culinary Accelerator. Christian Le Squer, a Michelin-rated chef who runs Le Cinq restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, has agreed to work with the Immokalee Culinary Accelerator to help our chefs and to raise money.

 Question: If the small businesses are the largest job creators how do we protect and encourage small business growth?

We need to create a business friendly environment in Collier County. For example, make permitting easier and less expensive.

Question: The rent keeps getting higher, the salaries are not keeping up. How do we insure affordable housing for the workers in Collier County?

The problem of housing affordability can be solved by making it more profitable for landowners and builders to develop multi-apartment housing vs. single-family luxury homes. We need to address density issue- how many housing units are allowed to be built on a certain property.

 Question:  How do we reduce crime in Collier County?

The crime rate in Collier County is very low, and it keeps decreasing despite our fast growth. The major problem we are facing today is the opioid addiction. We have educational programs in place and I am actively involved with the program to help people get the necessary information and support to fight the opioid addiction.

Andy Solis was very helpful and he definitely has my vote!