Close this search box.

Log in

Top Stories

Collier County will remain a single-member voting district after a vote Feb. 27 by the Board of County Commissioners.

Commissioner Burt Saunders brought forward a request to create a study committee to report on the pros and cons of each form of governance in Florida—at-large, single-member and mixed. There are 40 at-large counties in Florida where all commissioners are elected countywide with each district having a resident commissioner, 20 single-member counties in Florida where each commissioner is elected by district and seven mixed counties with five single members and two at-large members.

The request failed by a 3-2 vote, keeping Collier one of the 20 single-member voting counties in the state. Commissioner Rick LoCastro voted with Saunders in favor of the motion for a study.

The county has been a single-member district since 1988. Saunders argued that due to a rapidly growing population and changing demographics it would be a healthy practice to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of at-large and mixed systems.

“As a voting bloc, there’s no way that a minority can elect a county commissioner from a particular district based on just the racial and ethnic composition of the district. But if all those minorities throughout the county were tied to a particular candidate, they would have much greater voting strength,” Saunders said.

Commissioner Dan Kowal said adopting at-large voting could recreate a problem the county faced in the 1980s when candidates focused their campaigns on wealthy areas west of Interstate 75.

“We don’t want to revert to having to go back to the people with deep pockets or the developers or the companies who are willing to sign that $1,000 [campaign donation] check. It’s easier to run in your own district because each district has its own demographic of what amount of money it takes to run,” Kowal said.

Commissioner Chris Hall said single-member voting does not insinuate that elected officials only care about their own districts. He said each commissioner has the best interest in mind of the entire county.

“To assume that we’re not accountable or caring to every person is both naive and absurd,” Hall said.

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

Don't Miss

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Please note that article corrections should be submitted for grammar or syntax issues.

If you have other concerns about the content of this article, please submit a news tip.