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Forever young

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  • | 11:00 a.m. September 25, 2015
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When Dan Sinclair moved to Lee County in 1994 from Thunder Bay, Ontario, there weren't a lot of draws for young professionals like him.

So 13 years ago, Sinclair created the Young Professionals organization in Lee County, creating a venue for young workers to network and socialize. The organization today is so big that it has 7,500 people following on Facebook, 1,800 people on the email list and an estimated 6,000 people attended its annual Sandbar Extravaganza event recently.

As busy as he is as the volunteer president of Young Professionals, Sinclair makes a living running a financing company, a technology sales firm and a commercial real estate business. Sinclair, 48, was a Business Observer 40 under 40 winner in 2006.

Now Sinclair is adding another endeavor: running as a candidate for the office of the Lee County Supervisor of Elections next year. “It's my No. 1 job right now,” Sinclair says.

Sinclair has raised $11,000 of what he hopes will be a $100,000 campaign chest, he says. Already, he says, he's raised more than three times as much as his closest competitor.

Because he's been active raising money for local politicians, friends urged Sinclair to run for office. He turned down the idea of running for county commissioner but believed he could improve the elections office.

Sinclair says election offices statewide are behind in implementing technology that could make the voting process more efficient and transparent. He says voters like him are dissatisfied with the process, which includes standing in long lines and worrying about whether their vote is counted. “They want to know their vote was recorded,” he says.

Sinclair holds up other local government agencies such as the Lee County Property Appraiser's Office and the Lee County Clerk of Courts as models for the use of technology. “If you don't step up, you can't whine about it,” Sinclair says.

Sinclair says he's not worried about the demands of campaigning. “I do that stuff already,” Sinclair says. “I'm a social guy.”

His biggest challenge is encouraging his network of young professionals to vote. “I think the younger vote is a problem,” he says.

In addition, Sinclair says he's deflected criticism from political opponents who say the Young Professionals group is more of a party group. But Sinclair points to economic development groups that have copied his model in an effort to boost membership as validation.

“We've got 13 years of goodwill built up,” Sinclair says.

Blast from the Past
A look back at Dan Sinclair's answers to questions in the 2006 issue of 40 under 40.

Formula for success: Give back to the community, work smarter rather than harder, deliver more than you promise, delegate more, surround yourself with fun people and just have fun.

Name one pressing issue affecting our region today: Affordable housing and lack of proper freeway planning.

What's on your iPod? '80s and '90s music, because I haven't had time to download anything new.

What would you like to be doing more of? Lifting weights, rollerblading, boating and traveling.


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