The race for Collier County Commissioner just heated up. As of today, Rick LoCastro is running for the seat in District 1, running as a Republican with plans to campaign on a platform of proven experience, according to a press release.

LoCastro joins Republicans Jacob Winge and William Douglass as well as Democrat John Jenkins, all vying to replace retiring commissioner Donna Fiala as she completes her second decade in the post and steps aside.

The primary election is set for August 18th, 2020, just under a year away.

LoCastro cited workforce housing, real estate and land management, county finances and resources, environmental protection, emergency preparedness, and a concentration on community issues on his list of top priorities. After serving in the Air Force for 24 years and reaching the rank of Colonel, LoCastro retired from the military and was hired for an executive position in a Naples hospital.

In the release, LoCastro stressed the need for seasoned leadership to represent the county on the multitude of key and complex issues ahead.

“Open communication and engagement with our residents and business leaders as well as working closely with the commissioners of the other four districts is one of my priorities,” LoCastro said. “It’s important all of our commissioners have depth in the issues and a proven record of leading teams and understanding and solving difficult problems. I’m fortunate and blessed to have done that in the military and in my civilian career, and I am dedicated to this community. I look forward to campaigning full-time so I can share my passion and views concerning our community and our future.”

LoCastro earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and has three Master of Science degrees–to include one in Public Administration & Policy from Central Michigan University. He is a former Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Board Member and a Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce Leadership Collier graduate.

In his release, LoCastro also highlighted his experience in the local area and the unique perspective his background as a high ranking officer and a private executive provide. “I’m a resident of Marco Island and work in East Naples and the surrounding community. It’s given me the rare and unique opportunity to touch all areas of District 1. There’s no question our community is amazing, but we need to ensure we take experienced and proper steps to keep it that way,” said LoCastro. “I’ve had the privilege of developing leadership and problem-solving skills throughout my extensive military and business career, and I look forward to dedicating myself to the Commissioner position and the many challenges and opportunities in District 1 and all of Collier County.”

LoCastro is currently President of RJL Consulting Team, which provides strategic and operational expertise across multiple industries, including healthcare, local and state business, government, and veterans organizations. Previously, he served as a senior leader at Avow Hospice and prior to that was the Chief Operating Officer of Physicians Regional Medical Center–both in Naples. In his various leadership roles, LoCastro was an Emergency Operation Center commander multiple times through hurricanes, snowstorms, active shooter incidents, and major aircraft accidents. Throughout his Air Force career, he provided senior leadership to thousands of military and civilian personnel and administered multi-million dollar budgets. He was the Base Commander of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and of the 96th Air Base Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach. He oversaw all Presidential operational support for Air Force One as a Commander on Andrews Air Force Base.

The Collier County Commissioner hopeful pointed out his experience in managing personnel as well as large bases and hospitals, a few of the many reasons he feels that he is the best choice for county commissioner.

“As the Commander of some of our largest and highest profile military installations, I’ve had the privilege to command all aspects of several bases, including housing, utilities, environmental protection, emergency response, healthcare, leading and working with thousands of personnel, and everything in between to run a large city.”