NAPLES, Fla.- The City of Naples will soon have a new, but familiar, mayor: Bill Barnett.
His election on Tuesday night leads to the beginning of his fourth term since 1996, though he has not held the office consecutively.
“I was, I was literally blown away,” said Barnett who’s been serving Naples since 1984 when he was first elected as a council member.
Since then, he has served three terms as mayor. Barnett beat his fellow council member Theresa Heitmann and incumbent John Sorey by a landslide Tuesday night.
“It was a tough campaign. I, of course, was optimistic that I wanted to win but I never had any idea it was going to be by this amount,” Barnett said. “I think the city is going to be really pleased. I think this campaign sent a message from the voting public.”
With the change of mayor, comes a change in council members too. Three new faces will join Barnett.
“I want to earn their respect. I think we’ve got a great team and I couldn’t have picked a better team,” Barnett said.
Barnett is making it clear that cutting down on drivers’ commute is going to be a big priority.
“I’ve been campaigning about it since September that we need to do something about the traffic signalization. Getting them synchronized, working with the county and county commissioners,” Barnett said.
Ellen Woonton, an Old Naples resident for three years, says she’s glad to hear Barnett is going to make traffic a main focus.
“I walk and I plan my trips out of the immediate area early in the morning because the traffic is like really, really bad,” Woonton said.
Besides the traffic, Barnett says he also wants to work on the city’s redevelopment and Baker Park.
“I want to see some dirt flying certainly before I get out of office. I can guarantee you that and I haven’t even been sworn in yet,” Barnett said.
Barnett will be sworn in as mayor on April 6.