The Public Servant: Bill Barnett

The Public Servant
Bill Barnett

Photographer by Vanessa Rogers at the Barnett residence on Naples Bay

Bill Barnett - Naples City Council and Mayor - photography by Vanessa Rogers

Naples can’t seem to get enough of Bill Barnett. His time in the local government has lasted more than many marriages—and included a vow renewal along the way. Barnett served on the City Council from 1984 until 1992 and as mayor from 1996 until he termed out in 2000. After a four-year respite, Barnett reclaimed his position as mayor in 2004 for another eight years (thanks to an overwhelming voter referendum), and now once again occupies a seat on the City Council. “The one thing that remained a constant is that we knew what we didn’t want for Naples,” says Barnett. While he leaves behind a lengthy and impressive legacy, “Mayor Bill” says his most satisfying initiative was building the Cambier Park playground in 1998. With his handyman skills admittedly lacking, Barnett was happy to haul trash and watch as people, even tourists, came together for eight days to tackle the worthwhile project, part of the nonprofit KaBOOM! organization’s national mission to create great play spaces through community participation and leadership. Barnett’s voice ultimately found its way from boardrooms to ballrooms as an in-demand celebrity auctioneer at some of the area’s prominent fundraisers. “You go back and talk about our forefathers who had the vision for Naples, and I start realizing, holy mackerel, I’m one of those forefathers now.”

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