JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
From record voter turnout to a referendum to increase funding for conservation efforts here’s what you need to know about the results of the 2020 election:
• The Florida Division of Elections reported more than 11 million Floridians voted in the 2020 general election, putting turnout around 77%. About 1.5 million more votes were cast in 2020 than in 2016.
• Collier County crushed the turnout game, with the Collier Supervisor of Elections reporting that more than 90% of voters cast a ballot in the general election. Collier County led the pack in voter turnout, followed by Sumter County with nearly 88% turnout. Lee County voters also turned out in record numbers, with nearly 82% of voters casting a ballot.
• An amendment to increase the state’s minimum wage narrowly passed. The amendment, which gradually increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour, received 60.8% of the vote. The amendment increases the state’s minimum wage from $8.56 to $10 in September 2021, then goes up a $1 each year until it reaches $15 in 2026. Click here to see how Floridians voted on the five other amendments on the ballot.
• Southwest Floridians voted overwhelmingly to send Byron Donalds, a Naples-area Republican, to the U.S. House of Representatives. Donalds received 61% of the vote, defeating Fort Myers Democrat Cindy Banyai. Donalds pledged to make water quality and the environment a priority, saying the No. 1 issue for the region is “water quality.” Donalds replaces Rep. Francis Rooney, who announced his retirement last year.
• Look for a few fresh faces in Tallahassee during the 2021 Legislative Session. Republican Lauren Melo sailed to victory in the Florida House District 80 seat, receiving about 64% of the vote. Melo, a Naples realtor and owner of Florida Realty Specialists, replaces Donalds in the Florida House.
• In Lee County: Adam Botana won the House District 76 race with about 66% of the vote. House District 76 includes Bonita Springs and Estero, and Botana replaces Ray Rodrigues, who won a seat on the state Senate. Mike Giallombardo won the race in House District 77, which covers Cape Coral, and Jenna Persons won her race in House District 78, which covers Fort Myers.
• Incumbents also sailed to victory on Tuesday. Rep. Bob Rommel easily defeated Democrat Sara McFadden, pulling in 66% of the vote. Rep. Spencer Roach received 61% of the vote in House District 79, which includes Lehigh Acres.
• Rick LoCastro, a retired Air Force colonel, is heading to the Collier Board of County Commissioners after handily defeating Democrat John Jenkins. LoCastro, a Republican, will replace Commissioner Donna Fiala in Commission District 1, which includes East Naples and Marco Island. LoCastro said he was excited to get to work and plans to meet with senior county staff, constituents and stakeholders to get up to speed before his first meeting. Fiala is retiring after serving on the BCC for 20 years.
• A popular conservation program will be restarted, after 77% of Collier voters approved a tax referendum for conservation purposes. Voters approved a 0.25 millage rate for the county’s Conservation Collier acquisition program. The new tax means homeowners will pay about 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $75 a year for a $300,000 home. Conservation Collier will use at least 65% of the funding to acquire new land. Ten percent will fund public amenities at existing preserves, while the remaining 25% will be used for management. The Collier Board of County Commissioners needs to approve the increase before it goes into effect.