Russell Kish is running as an Independent for the Collier County Commission District 1 seat currently held by Republican incumbent Donna Fiala. Originally from Boston, Kish moved with his wife, Lynn, and their three sons to Port of the Islands in 2006. Kish has a B.S. in Pharmacy from Northwestern University and has been a career pharmacist for 33 years. Today, he works at both Naples Community Hospital and Golden Gate Pharmacy.
“My background is math, science and business,” says Kish, who considers himself part of the ‘silent majority’ that can no longer be silent. He has no political experience and does not consider himself a politician, instead, like many citizens who gravitated to political alternatives like the Tea Party movement, Kish focuses his frustration on public debt and expenditures and believes in citizen-based political power, saying, “I owe no favors. This is a grassroots campaign for the residents of Collier County.”
Kish responded to our questions and his answers follow below:
What compelled you to run for office?
The fiscally incompetent manner in which the County Commissioners managed the long term operation of Collier County provided the impetus for me to run. Ms. Fiala voted for; 1.) $130 million in taxpayer money to subsidize Jackson Labs. 2.) $80 million for the Oil Well road expansion to 375 homes. 3.) A $30 million profit for 2 landowners when Pepper Ranch was purchased by Conservation Collier in a down real estate market. Now our taxpayer debt payment is $109 million a year. (With Jackson Labs we would be $1 billion in debt.)
A secondary reason I am running, is Ms. Fiala voted against the straw vote for Fire/EMS consolidation on two occasions. This and her no vote on the Jackson Labs. referendum gave me pause to think she was against public sentiment, knew it and did not want her decisions challenged. This is unacceptable.
Are you involved in any community organizations?
I am not involved directly. I have attended the following:
1.) Multiple East Naples Fire commissioner meetings when we were losing firefighters. 2.) Isle of Capri Fire dept. finance meetings when discussing possible transfer of oversight to Marco Island. 3.) East Naples Task force meeting on the problem of code enforcement of abandoned homes and business sign restrictions. 4.) Solid waste reclamation center meetings on the dump and recycling centers. 5.) CAT (public transit) meetings on route changes and management proposals. 6.) I-75 interchange meetings with state officials. (Ms. Fiala was not in attendance) I also have been on personal tours of the water treatment plants, the James Mudd Emergency Services center and waste management services.
What would your top priorities be if elected?
The first objective is to eliminate the $670 million county debt. Accomplished by spending only on necessary capital expenditures, reworking Conservation Collier so that it stops costing over $37 million a year and new energy conservation policies. Imagine what could be done with that $109 million instead of using it to pay the debt.
With the debt eliminated we will have a stabilized environment for businesses to flourish. We could eliminate tangible taxes and lower commercial and residential property taxes. By keeping the area safe with good schools, great weather, clean beautiful beaches and a low stable tax base, businesses will expand or locate here with confidence that their costs are known and controllable. The same applies to home ownership. Most distressed areas that offer incentives to businesses cannot offer this stability.