Newsletter, Collier County Florida Democratic Party

JUNE 2023


Jane Schlechtweg
Collier County Democratic Party Chair

Letter from the Chair

The Collier County Democratic Party is kicking off June with a petition drive to get a proposed reproductive rights amendment to the state constitution on the 2024 ballot. An overwhelming majority of Floridians think we should all have the freedom to make our own personal health care decisions without interference from the government.

Help put these decisions back in the hands of Florida families and their doctors, not extreme politicians. Sign the petition today! Or volunteer to help collect signed petitions.

June is also a month that is significant for two important celebrations: Gay Pride Month and Juneteenth. Both observances are vital in acknowledging and celebrating the struggles and achievements of marginalized communities in the United States. In today’s hostile environment created by the 2023 Legislative Session, it is of upmost importance that we celebrate both.

Naples PrideFest 2023 will be celebrated on June 10 from 11 am till 5 pm in Cambier Park. Come together to celebrate LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies and to advocate for equal rights.

Juneteenth will be held on June 17th from 11 am to 4 pm at the River Park Community Center. This is an opportunity to celebrate the roots of the African American culture through music and food.

While the experiences of women, the LGBTQ+ community, and the African American community may seem different on the surface, all struggle for equality and dignity. All have faced discrimination and marginalization, and all have fought for their rights and recognition. Women have fought for years to gain equal rights guaranteed under the US Constitution. Please sign the petition so that at least women will have the right to make their own health care decisions. Naples PrideFest and Juneteenth are two opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of these communities. We must recognize the work that still needs to be done to achieve true equality for all. By coming together to partake in these important events, we can build a more inclusive and just society for all.

Jane Schlechtweg
Collier County Democratic Party Chair

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Stand With Us:  Sign the Petitions!

A proposed amendment to the state constitution will protect reproductive rights in Florida, but we’ll need your help!

We are collaborating with Floridians Protecting Freedom, a statewide coalition of organizations and concerned citizens working together to protect our access to reproductive health care and defend the right to body autonomy. Their citizen-led ballot initiative, the “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion,” seeks to codify the right to reproductive choice into Florida law by creating a constitutional amendment that explicitly blocks the implementation of laws that prohibit, delay, or restrict abortion access. To get this proposed amendment on the ballot in 2024, we’ll need one million signatures of registered Florida voters. Click the button below for more details and to sign the petition:


CALLING ALL ACTIVISTS! Want to do more? We need your help to gather signed petitions at designated locations. Join one of our upcoming orientation sessions to learn more; all supplies provided. Click here to sign up for our next training session.

A proposed amendment to the state constitution will protect our right to clean water. This is a #WatershedMoment. We can make this happen.

With your help, we can bring this initiative to amend Florida’s Constitution to the voters in November 2024, so the PEOPLE can decide whether we should hold our State agencies accountable for harm to Florida’s waters. Click the button below for more details and to sign the petition:


You’re Invited to Attend the Collier County Democratic Executive Committee (DEC) Meeting!

The DEC is the local official arm of the Florida Democratic Party and is comprised of elected Committeemen and Women. Official meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 PM.

Upcoming meeting dates:

June 7th and July 5th, 2023

CLICK HERE to register. Meet DEC members and leaders. Learn about the work being done to advance our mission!

Registered Democrats may attend and observe as guests and must register ahead of time. Only DEC members may vote and participate in the meeting. Attendees are encouraged to join 10 minutes early to get settled before the meeting begins.

How Free is Florida?

A series of articles examining regressive legislation

Florida’s New 6-Week Abortion Law: Forced Pregnancy is Not Freedom

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis often uses the word “freedom” in his speeches, but in reality, he spends a lot of time dictating what Floridians CAN’T do. For a public official elected to serve and represent ALL Floridians, his actions prove that he only serves those who think, look, act, worship, and believe exactly as he does.

Central to the concept of freedom is the liberty to hold diverse beliefs and make choices based on one’s conscience and personal circumstances. Florida’s newest abortion ban, by its very nature, is an infringement upon these principles of freedom, liberty, and personal autonomy. Abortion bans deny the individual the power to make choices that are deeply personal and profoundly consequential.

Reproduction is a Non-Partisan Issue

  • 67% of Floridians believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases.
  • Nationwide, 72% of Americans agree that the decision about whether to end a pregnancy should belong solely to the pregnant person.
  • Only 12% of Floridians want to ban abortion entirely.

(Source ACLU Florida)

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a list of other health organizations all agree that when access to safe and legal abortion is curtailed, individuals may resort to unsafe methods, risking their lives and well-being. Abortion bans seriously threaten women’s health, access to medical treatment, and the socioeconomic future of entire families. The World Health Organization states that lack of access to safe, timely, affordable and respectful abortion care is a critical public health and human rights issue.

Unaware and Out of Luck

Pregnancy is tracked along a 40-week timeline, starting with the last day of the woman’s previous menstrual cycle. Fertilization occurs, and pregnancy is conceived between week 2 and 3 of this cycle. Most women don’t begin to suspect pregnancy for two to three weeks after that – five to seven weeks into pregnancy.

After a long court battle, Florida law now requires individuals seeking an abortion to have two in-person appointments with a physician at least 24 hours apart. This means that the six-week ban gives pregnant individuals one to three weeks to confirm pregnancy, schedule these two separate office visits, and decide how a child will affect their relationship, education, career, financial, and housing situation. If they decide they cannot emotionally or financially support a child at that time, they then have to schedule time off work to terminate the pregnancy and recover.

Minors seeking abortion must obtain parental consent in most instances, and if they cannot get parental consent, they can petition a judge to allow them a waiver to seek abortion care. All of those medical and legal hurdles must be completed within the same one to three weeks between confirming a pregnancy and the deadline to terminate it.

Government interference in intimately individual, life-altering decisions when it in no way affects the public, is not freedom.

Small Exceptions for Rape and Incest

Florida’s law contains some exceptions. Termination of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest would be allowed until 15 weeks of pregnancy, provided a woman has documentation such as a restraining order or police report. Governor DeSantis has called the rape and incest provisions sensible.

According to a study released in 2017, one in five women in the United States experience completed or attempted rape in their lifetime. Due to trauma response, societal stigma, and fear of reprisal and future attack by their rapists, it is estimated that only 25% of sexual assaults are reported.

Victims recovering both physically and mentally from the violence of forced sexual attack, are required to have the intimate details of their victimization publicly documented within weeks of the traumatic event. Once pregnancy is confirmed, they then have less than eight weeks on average to process the trauma, receive documentation, and initiate termination of an unwanted pregnancy before being victimized again through forced pregnancy and birth of their attacker’s child.

Forcing anyone to carry and give birth to their rapist’s child, under any circumstance, is not freedom.

Targeting Healthcare Workers and Violating Privacy

The new law requires doctors to report any abortion performed after the six-week mark to the state’s Department of Health, raising serious privacy concerns for patients. Such restrictions also have the potential to create a chilling effect on medical providers, who could be deterred from performing abortions even in cases where it is medically necessary, all for fear of being seen to violate strict state reporting requirements.

The Florida Medical Association recently announced a shortage of around 500 obstetrician-gynecologists as physicians are leaving the state in the wake of the new law. Recruiters report a sharp rise in reluctance for physicians and nurses from other states to accept employment in Florida due to the law. Several areas of the state were already suffering from a lack of access to women’s healthcare, and it will only continue to get worse.

Forcing doctors to violate confidentiality and patient privacy in order to police reproductive healthcare is not freedom.

Forcing Patients to Travel Hundreds of Miles for Health Care

South Carolina is now the closest state to Collier County (at least 635 miles to the border) where abortions are currently allowed past six weeks, allowing consideration up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed a six-week ban into law on May 25, 2023, but a judge has temporarily halted implementation pending Supreme Court review. South Carolina’s state Supreme Court had struck down a previous version of the six-week ban earlier this year, ruling the law violated their constitution’s right to privacy.

A group of South Carolina Republicans previously proposed a bill that would consider aborted fetuses victims of homicide, allowing the death penalty to be considered for women who have abortions. Some Republicans have since withdrawn their support.

North Carolina currently bans abortion at 20 weeks, though its Legislature is considering shortening access to 12 weeks.

Georgia has a six-week ban in place, though slightly less restrictive than Florida because of tele-health access for the first mandatory counseling appointment.

Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana all have total abortion bans in place with limited exceptions for medical necessity.

These bans overwhelmingly affect families with lower incomes, who cannot afford to take multiple days off from jobs or pay for care for existing children while they travel several states away seeking healthcare options. These are also the Floridians most likely to consider ending a pregnancy due to socio-economic hardship.

Eradicating safe, medically-supervised reproductive care options and forcing patients to travel hundreds of miles to seek healthcare, is not freedom.

Left Out of the Discussion and the Consequences

“It takes two to Tango,” but men are rarely even mentioned in abortion discussions. Not one of the abortion bans around the country that seek to criminalize women and doctors, ever address the man involved in the pregnancy. In fact, many abortions are considered in the first place due to the lack of paternal involvement and support, but no law holds men accountable for unwanted pregnancies.

Additionally, no abortion law currently addresses the quality of life of the children being forced into families who cannot financially or emotionally support them.

Forcing pregnancy and the birth of children upon anyone when safe medical alternatives exist is a cruel infringement of the most fundamental of human rights and freedoms. Florida’s abortion law is an arrogant overreach of government interference in the lives and futures of millions of citizens.

You don’t have to be pro-abortion to support every American’s right to make their own healthcare decisions in accordance with their individual beliefs and circumstances.

Restore Freedom in Florida. Sign the Petition!

Stand with the majority of Americans in defense of reproductive rights and freedom from government interference. Floridians Protecting Freedom (FPF) is a statewide coalition of organizations and concerned citizens working together to protect Floridians’ access to reproductive health care and defend the right to body autonomy. FPF’s citizen-led ballot initiative, the “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion,” seeks to codify that right into Florida law by creating a constitutional right that explicitly blocks the implementation of laws that prohibit, delay, or restrict abortion access.

Only Florida registered voters may sign this petition for a constitutional amendment. To confirm your voter registration status, visit

Help us put it on the ballot!

If you are a Florida registered voter, please visit to sign and submit the statewide petition to free everyone’s right to privacy and autonomy of healthcare decisions. Collier County Democratic headquarters, located at 600 Goodlette-Frank Rd Suite 110 in Naples has been named as a regional ‘petition hub’ where you can pick up blank petitions and drop off completed petitions. Completed petitions may be mailed to Petition Collection, Post Office Box 4068, Sarasota, FL 34230.

Freedom equals choice. Sign the petition today, and share it with friends and family who value American rights and freedom.


The Collier County Democratic Party is fighting to make sure “we, the people” (all the people) have a chance to succeed. We stand with Southwest Florida against the mantra of party over people. We are committed to listening to and amplifying your voice and working toward a future that works for everyone.

Florida Fundamentally Altering Higher Education

As of July 1, 2023, SB266 will alter the very nature of Florida higher education by (among other things) modifying the concept and process of tenure, co-opting academic hiring practices, eliminating DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) programs, controlling the content of required general education courses and prohibiting various programs and courses of study including LGBTQ studies, women’s studies, and others. This legislation pretends to promote higher education excellence but instead codifies excessive control by the Board of Governors and Board of Education to promote the culture wars currently being waged by Gov. Ron DeSantis and his compliant legislature.

These bills call for post-tenure review, an assault on the foundation of academic freedom. Tenure provides faculty with an assurance that they will neither be disciplined nor fired based on their research agenda or teaching approaches. Tenure provides a firewall against undue influence by politicians and others who might promote extremist anti-academic policies. Faculty are experts in their fields—they write curriculum/content, hire qualified colleagues, and make tenure decisions. Administrators and education board members are not experts in specific research/academic fields and are appointed by political entities that have agendas unrelated to academic excellence. SB 266 will have a chilling effect on hiring established and emerging scholars and negatively impact faculty and student recruitment and retention. The unknown impact on Florida’s HBCUs is of major concern to those who opposed these bills.

– K.R. Finer

2023 Florida Legislative Session Wrap Up:  The “Anti-Freedom” Session

The Florida House and Senate just concluded their 60-day session for 2023, passing more than 300 bills. Thus far, Governor DeSantis has signed 100 of them but still has 47 more waiting on his desk to sign into law or veto.

While a few were beneficial bills that Democrats wrote and/or supported, most of them were bad bills, pushed through by the GOP’s supermajority and DeSantis’s “Slate of Hate” Agenda. Those bad bills targeted women, immigrants, marginalized communities, LGBTQ+ people, educators, voting rights, healthcare providers, parents and children, and even businesses. The NAACP, LULAC, Equality Florida, and the Human Rights Campaign have all issued travel advisories warning that Florida has become openly hostile, highlighting these legislative attacks. Very few of the GOP pushed bills aimed to solve Florida’s problems such as rising property insurance rates, the increased cost of housing, poor water quality, Florida’s teacher shortage, or mass shootings.

Beneficial Bills Democrats supported include:

  • Affordable housing incentives to increase the workforce housing supply
  • Expansion of Florida’s wildlife corridor
  • Several bills to prevent water quality degradation (but few solutions to improve water quality)
  • Several bills to combat human trafficking

Bad Bills Democrats opposed are:

  • 6-week Abortion Ban – forced pregnancy with no freedom to make your own healthcare decisions
  • Permitless Carry of Firearms – no permit needed and no gun training required
  • Expansion of School Vouchers to private schools – taking public funding away from Collier County Public Schools and students
  • Promoting Hate – targeting the LGBTQ+ community
  • Union Busting – directed at female-dominated unions like teachers and healthcare workers but exempts more male-dominated unions like probation officers and firefighters
  • Erasing History – banning books, classes, and entire college majors
  • Immigration – another cruel policy that punishes our immigrant communities and will hurt our economy
  • Death Penalty – allows 8 of 12 juror threshold to impose the death penalty, despite that Florida gets the death sentence wrong more than any other state with a unanimous jury
  • Eliminating Government Transparency – shields the Governor’s travel records and meetings from public view and allows him to run for President while still Governor

Several lawsuits have already been filed against the unconstitutionality of these bad bills – but the GOP legislature prepared for this, designating $16M of our tax dollars in the budget to defend these suits. These are tax dollars that could be better spent on urgent real Florida issues!

On the good news front, in 2023, the Collier County Democrats and the Democratic Women’s Club of Marco sent out Legislative Alerts to subscribers with a call to action: write to legislators to let them know what you support or oppose. In less than 10 seconds, a pre-written, pre-addressed email was sent. In total, we sent 26,000 emails this session! And they were impactful, making sure our voices were heard. Our emails were mentioned as a key reason the Collier County School Board chose Dr Ricciardelli as Superintendent. Over 600 emails (with 300+ from CCPS parents) voiced strong support for Dr. Ricciardelli, while only 200 emails (with only 5 parents of non-CCPS students) were sent for the other candidate. We were heard!

– CCDEC Legislative Action Team

Be informed and get active! Subscribe to our Legislative Alerts!


Join Us at the 5th Annual Naples PrideFest!

Show your Democratic Pride and Allyship, by Attending the 5th Annual Naples PrideFest. Drop by our table and say hi!

RISE – RESIST – PERSIST: Naples Pride celebrates diversity and unity, educates the community on LGBTQ issues and promotes equal rights for all. This all-inclusive, family-friendly and open to the public event will combine entertainers, speakers, musicians, performers, vendors, exhibitors, kids activities, food & drink for a day of fun.

Saturday, June 10th, 11am- 5pm
Cambier Park in Naples, Florida
General Admission $5 – Kids 12 and Under FREE!​

Get your tickets now and skip the line!
Details and Tickets

Reserve Your VIP Experience – Naples PrideFest 2023 – 18+. You have 3 shows to choose from! Tickets include Entrance & 2 Drinks! $25

VIP Times & Location: Jun 10, 12:00 PM, 1:30 PM & 3:00 PM at The Norris Center – Naples PrideFest, 755 8th Ave S, Naples, FL 34102, USA

Come celebrate PrideFest and all of the events before & after – keep checking in, as the Pride Events will be updated!

VIP Experience Details and Tickets

Join Us in Celebration of Juneteenth, Hosted by the NAACP!

June 17th, 11 AM to 4 PM at Riverpark Community Center
301 11th St N., Naples, FL 34102
Drop by our table and say hi!

After the Union Army captured New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Confederate states migrated to Texas with more than 150,000 enslaved Black persons. For 3 years, even after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved Black Americans in Texas remained in brutal bondage, immorally and illegally deprived of their freedom and basic dignity. On June 19, 1865 — over 2 years after President Lincoln declared all enslaved persons free — Major General Gordon Granger and Union Army troops marched to Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the last enslaved Black Americans in Texas.

Those who were freed from bondage celebrated their long-overdue emancipation on June 19. Today, our Nation commemorates Juneteenth: a chance to celebrate human freedom, reflect on the grievous and ongoing legacy of slavery, and rededicate ourselves to rooting out the systemic racism that continues to plague our society as we strive to deliver the full promise of America to every American.

This Juneteenth, we are freshly reminded that the poisonous ideology of racism has not yet been defeated — it only hides. Our Nation continues to mourn the 10 lives senselessly taken in Buffalo, New York, and grieve for the families who have lost a piece of their soul. As we confront the awful reality of yet another gunman massacring innocent people in the name of hatred, racism, and fear, we must meet this moment with renewed resolve. We must stand together against white supremacy and show that bigotry and hate have no safe harbor in America.

Juneteenth is a day to reflect on both bondage and freedom — a day of both pain and purpose. It is, in equal measure, a remembrance of both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation, as well as a celebration of the promise of a brighter morning to come. On Juneteenth, we remember our extraordinary capacity to heal, to hope, and to emerge from our worst moments as a stronger, freer, and more just Nation. It is also a day to celebrate the power and resilience of Black Americans, who have endured generations of oppression in the ongoing journey toward equal justice, equal dignity, equal rights, and equal opportunity in America. (Pres. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., A Proclamation on Juneteenth Day of Observance, 2022)

DEC Caucus and Club News and Events!

Collier County Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida (CCDECF)

The CCDECF has a mission to elect candidates at the local, state and national level who will promote sound environmental policies. To do this, our Caucus engages in activities that educate voters and candidates about best approaches to our environmental challenges.

Join the CCDECF at these upcoming events:

Naples Pride Fest, Saturday, June 10th from 11 – 5 at Cambier Park

Naples Pride celebrates diversity and unity, educates the community on LGBTQ issues and promotes equal rights for all. This all-inclusive, family-friendly and open to the public event will combine entertainers, speakers, musicians, performers, vendors, exhibitors, kids’ activities, food & drink for a day of fun and celebration.

Juneteenth Freedom Day, Saturday, June 17th, 11 AM – 4 PM at the River Park Community Center

Juneteenth is a festive day commemorating the official end of slavery in the U.S., sponsored by the NAACP of Collier County. It includes spoken word performances, live music, a kids’ corner with games and more, food for purchase and speakers.

CCDECF is looking for volunteers to help us at these events. Volunteers will educate voters on local environmental issues, encourage vote-by-mail ballots, and collect signed petitions. Email if you’re able to volunteer.

Support Florida’s Right to Clean Water Amendment –

The amendment needs 900,000 signatures by November 30th to make it on to the 2024 ballot. Florida voters have an opportunity to stop the continued polluting of our waters by supporting the “Right to Clean and Healthy Waters” Amendment. Learn more about the initiative here.

How you can help –

  1. Sign the Right to Clean Water amendment Petition Form and share with your friends & family (petitions must be printed and signed by FL registered voters)
  2. Watch the Intro to the Florida Right to Clean Water YouTube video.
  3. Record a video testimonial explaining why the FL Right to Clean Water amendment is important to you. Videos should be NO MORE THAN 1 minute in length and sent to
  4. Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in support of the amendment.
  5. Volunteer with CCDECF and help us collect signed petitions across Collier County.
  6. Become a member of the Collier County Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida for $15 annually.

All signed petitions must be mailed to 13300 South Cleveland Avenue Suite 56 Fort Myers, FL 33907.
You can mail up to 5 petitions in one envelope with a standard stamp.

Liz Sunderland
President CCDECF

Connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn!

Democratic Women’s Club of Marco

Hello Democrats and Like minded Friends.

Please hold the Date. The next meeting of DWCMarco will take place on
Tuesday, June 13, from 5:00 pm- 6:30 pm EST. via ZOOM.

Joseph Bonasia, Chair of Florida Rights of Nature Network (FRONN) and Communications Director of, will be our featured speaker. During his presentation, “The Right to Clean and Healthy Waters Constitutional Amendment: Fixing a failing system,” he will discuss the need to amend our state constitution with this fundamental “Right to Clean and Healthy Waters,” explain key aspects of the law, provide concrete examples of showing how it will solve water quality issues in Florida, and how DWCMarco members and all Florida residents can help qualify the amendment for the 2024 ballot. As our state experiences rampant development, we must protect our waters for our quality of life, our economy, and for our environment. Click here to sign the Right to Clean Water Petition!

JOIN US! Our zoom call will open at 4:45pm, and begin promptly at 5:00pm.

Registration is required. Click Here!

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Community members interested in joining the club and promoting our Democratic values while supporting its charitable efforts can go to or contact us at

Learn About the Party and All the Volunteer Opportunities!

Come to an orientation session to learn about the Collier County Democratic Party and join our dedicated group of volunteers.

There is lots of work to be done as we approach the 2024 Election and WE NEED YOU!

There are many opportunities to choose from; contribute your time and talent to an activity you select.

CLICK HERE to register for an orientation session to learn about the organization and the multiple Committees that advance our mission. If you cannot find a time that works for you, contact Anne Daley at 516-455-2782, and she will find a time that fits into your schedule.

Support our Local Podcast!​

Don’t miss out on the conversation.

The Collier Democratic Roundup podcast dives into issues important to Collier County and to Florida. Find it at the bottom of the home page or on Spotify.

The podcast is produced by former DEC Vice Chair, Jeff Spencer, and he’s seeking volunteers. If you can help coordinate contacts and schedules, and/or if you can help with audio editing, please contact Jeff Spencer and help us keep the conversation going.

Also, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (NEW!) Comment, like, and share in support of Democratic ideals every day!