Monday, September 26, 2005

Elections in Nine Days

Key West City Elections are in nine days. Early voting is already open. The makeup of the City Commission is going to change, no doubt. With three incumbent Commissioners facing opposition, and two open seats also being competed for, thats' guaranteed.

There's always the chance for a surprise, of course, but here's my take on the elections as of the moment:

Mayor: Jimmy Weekley has too much money behind him and too much name recognition to lose to newcomer Morgan McPherson -- unless there's a groundswell of opposition that hasn't shown up in the papers and among the populace. I don't think it'll be a blowout for Weekley, but I do think he has the edge at the moment.

District I: The buzz around town is that Commissioner Tom Oosterhoudt is in trouble. Facing a strong opponent in Planning Board veteran Bill Verge and two other candidates who may gather some of the vote, suffering the backlash from his vote on Watermark, and tainted by his behind-the-scenes maneuvering on Julio Avael's contract renewal, the colorful Commish may well go down to defeat.

District II: Appointed interim District II Commissioner Mark Rossi also faces a strong opponent in former Commissioner George Halloran. Rossi hasn't had time to establish a reputation of his own on the Commission. His ownership of the Rick's/Durty Harry's complex on lower Duval Street will be off-putting to some, while Halloran has gained the endorsement of the Key West Hometown PAC and the Key West Citizen. The other candidate, Mimi McCaoy-Grantham, daughter of Merile McCoy who died earlier in the year, hasn't been running a high-visibility campaign.

District III: This District is wide open with Commissioner Ed Scales not running for re-election. Hometown PAC endorsed Dan Kolhage for the job, while the Citizen chooses CPA Paul Mills. I don't know enough about either to judge. The candidate I do know personally, Russ Draper, is a good guy but may not have the backing to gain the seat.

District VI: Everyone expects Clayton Lopez to take this one, based on his family's long-time history here, and the 'newcomer' perception of Robert Cobb. However, the District is no longer a majority Bahamian/African-American stronghold as it once was. In fact, less than 30% of the voters in District VI are black any more. Cobb and Lopez have both been working hard to persuade and mobilize their voters. I rate this one as closer than it may appear on the surface.

I'm still hoping that we'll see a clean sweep of the Commission, but I'll be satisfied with a change in its balance, away from support for developers and toward doing what's right for residents.

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