Saturday, April 02, 2005

Politics in Paradise

Key West's municipal elections take place in October every two years. The following offices will be on this year's ballot:

     Mayor (Jimmy Weekley)
     Commission District I (Tom Oosterhoudt) Challenger: Bill Verge
     Commission District III (Ed Scales; not running) Challenger(s): Dan Kolhage, Russ Draper
     Commission District VI (Carmen Turner; not running) Challenger(s): Robert Cobb

Only Weekley among incumbents have so far announced that they intend to run for reelection. Some challengers have announced and have taken out the petition papers they will need to file by August 19th, with the requisite number of signatures. Oosterhoudt is known to have entertained running for Mayor in the past, and Turner is rumored to be interested also, but Weekley is entrenched in the job and would be difficult to unseat, absent something controversial happening between now and the election.

Being Commissioner is no mere honorific. Commissioners are expected to know a lot about what's going on in the city, must prepare for and attend two Commission meetings a month, handle constituent service, and the various "ceremonial" duties they are expected to perform at official and unofficial events the year around. The pay is low, less than $10,000 a year, so most Commissioners need to be employed elsewhere, relegating their public duties to the status of a "night job".

It's difficult to see how the campaign will shape up, what issues will emerge that will capture the interest of voters, and whether others will join into the fray. There's plenty of time. I'll be watching.

p.s. The election also serves to elect members of the so-called Utilities Board, the Board that supervises policy for Keys Energy Services, the city's electric generating and distribution company.

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