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Collier County Democrats weigh in on election results

Democratic Party volunteers met Tuesday night in Naples and tuned in to election coverage. They celebrated their efforts and the Democrats running for office.
Riley Hazel
Collier County Democratic Party volunteers met Tuesday night in Naples and watched election coverage. They celebrated their efforts and the Democrats running for office.

Collier County Democrats met Tuesday night at South Street Grill in Naples as election results rolled in.

Jennifer Boddicker, president of the Collier Democratic Party, said the main reason for hosting the watch party was to recognize the efforts of volunteers and Democrats running for office. She said her team still is making progress, even though Collier and much of Southwest Florida remains a Republican stronghold.

On Tuesday local Democrats did not engineer any surprise victories in various contests. And Republicans swept the state-wide races, such as governor and U.S. Senate.

“I think it's been pretty good,” Boddicker said. “It's a midterm. So it's not as much excitement as we had around the last presidential election. But we still have a lot of devoted Democrats who were here volunteering, doing lit drops, texting people making phone calls, and doing everything we could to get people registered to vote.”

Boddicker reminded people of the importance of democracy.

“I think preserving our democracy is very much on the minds of the people here tonight – making sure that we have people who are representing us who want to preserve the ability for people to vote and for their voices to be heard,” Boddicker said.

Karen Donohue is 62 and served as a precinct leader in Naples this year. After moving to Naples a year and a half ago from Fort Lauderdale, she said she was surprised to see the lack of Democrats in Collier.

“Well, the last time I voted I was in Broward County, Fort Lauderdale,” Donohue said. “So, completely different kind of feeling then. This time I feel more afraid of what the outcome is going to be because I'm afraid that there won't be another democratic election again. If we get these people in there that are willing to change the outcome of the vote or suppress the vote, then democracy dies, and I want to make democracy great again.”

East Naples voters may have experienced more lines as anticipated Tuesday. Boddicker says there were pickleball events at one polling site in Collier, and that it affected parking availability for voters.

“I know that at one east Naples voting location, which was a rec center, there was a pickleball tournament that happened and blocked parking for voters,” Boddicker said. “So, they may have wanted to come and vote today but couldn't have found a place to park, which is frustrating.”

According to the East Naples Community Park website, four pickleball training sessions were scheduled for Tuesday ranging from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Party Chairwoman Annisa Karim touched on the impacts of Hurricane Ian on voter turnout.

“Of course, Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida the day before vote-by-mail ballots were supposed to reach people's mailboxes,” Karim said. “And of course, for those that were seriously affected by the hurricane, voting in this election became one of their last priorities. So you know, that is unfortunate.”

Karim said she was pleased with attendance at Tuesday’s watch party. She said 95 people indicated they would be there, and 85 showed up to watch the returns.

The reporter on this story is Riley Hazel. She is a Journalism student and is taking the Democracy Watch class at FGCU.