Election 2024: Price vows to fight for property rights, advocate for residents

Gary Price makes his closing statements during a candidate forum for the mayoral and city council elections at Naples City Hall chambers in Naples on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024.
Gary Price makes his closing statements during a candidate forum for the mayoral and city council elections at Naples City Hall chambers in Naples on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024.

This is part of a series in which Naples candidates speak about key issues.

Gary Price is one of three candidates running for mayor in Naples.

A former councilman and vice mayor, the long-time financial advisor is running in large part to protect property rights, which he felt came under attack in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. The storm destroyed his home, forcing him to rebuild it.

"Unfortunately, what I found was a mayor and council trying to change what we could build on our lot – instead of supporting our community, they worked against us," he said. "I realized then my responsibility to fight to protect all of our rights."

In case you missed it: Former Naples Councilman Gary Price announces run for mayor in 2024

These are his views on some of the hottest topics in the city:

Growth and development

I’ve dedicated the last 20 years to making Naples the place that it is – the best place to live in the country. It didn’t happen overnight. It happened by following our existing rules and codes that have served us well for many years, challenging every project to be the very best, and holding residents, builders, and developers to the highest standards.

Ultimately, the way to properly manage our growth and development comes from experienced leaders who understand the priorities of our residents and advocate for them. The role of the mayor and council is to set forth a vision for community priorities and to support the staff necessary to execute the vision.

I believe the next four years are going to be critical to the success of our community and we must prioritize the way we restore, the quality in which we rebuild, and have a specific focus on the impacts of traffic, parking, public safety, and water quality.

Parking and traffic

To address the effects of what we are seeing with growth, development, traffic, and parking we must have a regional approach and work with our partners — something I’ve always done and will continue to do.

Addressing this problem will be a two-pronged approach. First we must take a look at what we can do within the city to address new project requirements for parking, and to measure the effects they will have on traffic. The second part is to ensure we have a seat at the table at the county level during the approval process to have visibility on the development projects the county approves and give residents a voice to share concerns about their potential effects.

The city needs to have someone who will advocate to protect our interests and I believe I am the right person to do that.

Taxes and spending

The current mayor and council have failed us. They raised our property taxes instead of going after the money we’ve already paid to the state and federal government that's available to invest in our community. Residents deserve a leader who will fight for our fair share of state dollars and practice fiscal responsibility.

As the only candidate who has owned their own business, I have a proven record of fiscal responsibility and would choose to manage taxpayer resources like any hardworking family would and as I have done for my family and clients throughout my professional career.

Affordable housing

Our nurses, first responders, and teachers should be able to live in or near the communities where they work. As mayor, I will partner with Collier County Public Schools and the Collier County government to continue the good work they are doing in this space to secure our share of affordable housing.

Public safety

I am the only candidate who has proposed a plan for how to properly fund critical public safety initiatives. Leveraging my great relationship with the Naples Airport Authority, I’ve proposed increasing their rent from $1 to several million to increase revenue and, in turn, ensure total compensation for our first responders and police officers.

Naples must remain competitive with adjacent agencies to maintain our safety officers and to do so, we must offer total compensation.

While the mayor and council may think they have solved the problem, they are only scratching the surface. If we don’t change, we will continue to lose valuable employees. Under their failed leadership, the city has lost over 215 employees the last two years. We must offer total compensation that includes pay, healthcare, and pension.

Other thoughts

Asked if he had anything to add, Price said: "My opponents had four years to fix traffic problems, address the city's growth, be fiscally responsible, and support our law enforcement officers – they’ve failed at every turn. I’m running to ensure good government, better leadership, and to keep Naples the best place to live, work, and raise a family."

He is running with a slate of three candidates for council, under the name "Team Naples," whose slogan is "Putting Residents First."

He and his team are supported by several political action committees, or PACs, including Collier Citizens for Responsible Government, Patriots with Principles, and the Realtors Political Advocacy Committee.

Through his own campaign, Price has raised more than $275,000, an unprecedented amount.

This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Naples mayor race: Price promises 'good government, better leadership'