NAPLES, Fla. — City Council member Ted Blankenship is running for mayor in Naples. Blankenship, who launched his campaign Monday night, said he aims to limit public drag performances as part of his agenda.
Blankenship has served on the Naples City Council since 2020 and gained attention last year for opposing drag shows in a local park, citing concerns about its appropriateness.
Blankenship stated, "We're a very conservative, family-oriented community, and people are very concerned about having an adult-style performance with adult themes in a park next to children."
However, Blankenship emphasizes that ending public drag shows is just one part of his mayoral focus. He says his main aims are to address various issues around government staffing, cost increases, and redevelopment matters.
In response, Naples Pride characterized the targeting of drag shows as an attack on the LGBTQ+ community.
“Drag is a form of art. Drag is a form of expression. Drag is whatever you want it to be. Drag is not dangerous. Drag is not obscene,” the organization said in a statement to Fox 4.
Another former council member, Gary Price, who launched his mayoral campaign in early October, shared his perspective. Price believes that public safety and other important issues should take priority over what he called distractions.
Price explained, "There are very important issues that I think take priority over the things that I think are maybe distractions." He also clarified that he does not support drag shows in public parks.
The general mayoral election is scheduled for March 19. Incumbent Mayor Theresa Heitmann says she plans to make an announcement on her plans for re-election shortly.