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Commentary: Civic work helps shape legislative agenda

By Kathleen Passidomo

Published by The Naples Daily News

My friends and family urged me to respond to misinformation and personal attacks in a number of recent letters to the editor. Instead, I’d like my constituents to know who I am, what I’ve done and what I stand for.

I came to Naples in 1979 with my husband, John, as a bride fresh out of law school. My profession is important to me, and I worked hard at my career. I was in the first group of attorneys in the state to obtain board certification in real estate law. I was also honored to be elected by my peers to serve as president of both the Collier County Bar Association and the Collier County Women’s Bar Association.

As my career progressed I was mindful of my parents’ teaching to give back to the community. I did just that by using my background and legal skills to help almost 100 civic, charitable and business organizations with their corporate documents and governance structure.

From creating the Collier County Juvenile Justice Council to serving as co-chair of the community engagement initiative of the Education Foundation of Collier County-Champions For Learning (“Connect Now”) and as president of the Southwest Florida Land Preservation Trust to chairing the board of The United Way of Collier County, I had the opportunity to work with citizens from all over Southwest Florida with a common goal of making our community a better place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

Along the way, John and I had three daughters: Catarina, Francesca and Gabriella and now we have two grandchildren, William and Emilio.

I’ve always had the desire to run for public office so that I could take what I’ve learned at the local level to the state level. In 2010 when my youngest daughter headed off to college, I became an “empty nester.” I seized the opportunity to continue serving my community and ran for public office. I was elected to the Florida House in 2010 and then to the Florida Senate in 2016 and haven’t looked back.

As a member of the Legislature, I focus on issues important to Southwest Florida. My foreclosure reform bill grew out of a partnership I helped form of community, civic and governmental organizations to provide pro bono advice and assistance to people facing foreclosure.

Another community partnership in which I became involved, the Identity Theft Task Force, came about because of the burgeoning incidents of identity theft in our community, especially among our seniors. That partnership led to my sponsorship of a bill to combat identity fraud.

Last session the tragic shooting in Parkland prompted the Florida Legislature to act swiftly to ensure the safety of the students in our schools. I fought to make sure significant mental health funding was allocated to our schools and sponsored legislation to establish partnerships with local mental health providers.

I also championed several other critical issues during my time in the Legislature, including legislation to provide increased care to infants affected by opioid addiction and guardianship reform. I was also successful in obtaining significant funding for local needs.

I’m proud of the work that I’ve done but there is so much more to do. I have a “bucket list” of initiatives focused on helping our community that I will undertake, including more emphasis on mental health funding; a septic to sewer program to address one of the root causes of the algae problem besetting our state; continuing my fight to stop legislative “sweeps” of the affordable housing trust fund and continued focus on issues confronting our elderly population. For more see:


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