Here we have Key West's new mayor Craig Cates in an official campaign photo with his wife Cheryl beaming enigmatically at the camera. Cates beat out the incumbent mayor with no need for a run off vote and apparently not much need for a visible campaign. Cates, whose name is associated with a former car dealership, a former city commissioner (his mother Emma) with assorted other relatives who have served in positions of responsibility. A vote for Cates wasn't exactly an anti-Conch vote. Discussion of Cates' win centers on outgoing Mayor McPherson's failure to keep his mouth shut on a couple of major recent scandals. giving credence to the notion that possibly a lot of people wanted to vote against Big Mac, but didn't want to seriously upset the city management apple cart. Cates was their candidate, he won by not saying much.
His campaign platform is the usual bland order of business, pulling people together, encouraging talented people to use their talent etc etc... He also wants to run the city in a more businesslike manner whatever that means. In a nation beset by gruesome economic problems Key West isn't doing too badly it seems to me, but perhaps we will now lose McPherson's more outlandish, and expensive flights of fantasy, like water parks and buying Christmas Tree Island to allow a developer to develop it and stuff like that.
Cates wasn't alone in getting a seat Tuesday night and if anyone thinks his election was the creation of a new city order look more closely. Jimmy Weekly is back after 20 years of service in city hall he gets another go, back as city commissioner this time. And Clayton Lopez representing a piece of old town centered on Bahama Village gets another term. His election is interesting in that his campaign was reported to be rather frisky in trying to make deals with his opponent to let Lopez have another term, the newspaper said, in return for a non campaign. In the end Lopez won his seat handily, so what his campaign manager was doing trying to make back room deals, seems rather odd and pointless, if the story was accurate.
There has been a lot written about the Randy Acevedo effect, where McPherson spoke out in support of the former school's superintendent at his sentencing, and McPherson was also reported in the paper to be boasting about his role in getting his sister appointed to the Florida Keys Community College Board. She subsequently voted to support the "resignation" of the controversial President who had upset quite a few people with her brusque leadership style. Not least McPherson's brother employed at the College and "reassigned " (demoted) by President Landesberg Boyle. I suppose using your influence to help a friend or relative could have become tiresome to city voters but I suspect there is more to the ouster of McPherson than these two tidbits in the newspaper.
Truman Waterfront is to be redeveloped soon and a player in that land bonanza is the Bahama Conch Community Land Trust whose leader and McPherson failed to get along at all. Reportedly Cates and Norma Jean Sawyer get along much better. Yet Clayton Lopez is no friend to the trust and he got re-elected in a solid vote. The newspaper reported preliminary findings of an audit of the Trust reporting financial problems with the Trust. Cates, Lopez and Weekly will have lots to do as the 34 acres of prime waterfront land is turned from a former military base wilderness into a spectacular developmental showpiece. How that goes may be more a reflection of the election than recent courtroom dramas.