Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A New City Commission

They held elections in the city of Key West on Tuesday, and though not many people bothered to show up, things have changed. I saw quite a few of these signs on my way to work, misspelling and all, which I thought was quite goofy. McPherson was mayor of the city for a while and was making a comeback this time around. He did not comeback losing badly to well know local attorney and political newcomer Sam Kaufman. Kaufmangot 62% of the vote which amounts to 271 votes of the 436 votes cast in his district. District 2 was held by the retiring Mark Rossi, no loss, and covers North Roosevelt Boulevard from Garrison Bight almost to the Beachside including Stadium Trailer Park and Sigsbee. Weird shaped district of indifference but there are hopes Kaufman will be modern and open and bring some useful change. He noted dryly in the newspaper the race was not even close so  perhaps there is a hunger for change in the district. 
District Five runs from North Roosevelt at Fifth in a bizarre diagonal slice across the city mid town area to approximately Higgs Beach.  District Five was held by Teri Johnston who also came in promising change and she managed to shuffle the deck chairs moderately in a town mired in stasis but she decided to give up the struggle and is replaced by a fire cracker who has taken on runs for the mayor's job twice and in failing to win garnered a surprising number of votes. Margaret Romero who cites her past as an IBM executive promised the Keynoter she will not let the citizens down. That should be interesting. The 1000 voters in the district who showed up had an interesting choice between Romero and Mike Mongo another local activist with his own record of afflicting the comfortable. They seemed to appreciate the choices because Romero beat Mongo by just 65 votes. 
The best race of the lot was the ouster of the sole incumbent who decided to run for a second term. Fats Yaniz has been the most colorful member of the Commission, speaking his mind ignoring decorum and not always presenting himself in the most judicious light in public. We can draw a veil over his stint because he has been replaced by a recently retired Judge who apparently found retirement tedious. Judge Payne, now Commissioner Payne was elected to his New Town District 4 with 712 votes out of 1080 cast. Yaniz had a habit of tangling with the mayor even challenging the mayor to leave the commission chambers once to settle a dispute with their fists in the street. I kid you not. I think this wild west attitude will be replaced by a rather more pompous note, probably much to the relief of the always even tempered Mayor. Judge Payne dropped this brilliant line to the paper, as though it was a presidential race perhaps rather than a city commission race with a dismal 29.77 percent turnout:
"We never got negative, we just [focused on] the positive and that resonated with the people," Payne said Tuesday night.
There are real issues facing the Commission which has six members and three of them are new. Truman Waterfront needs to be planned after a decade of doing nothing, the three new Commissioners had better figure out some way to appoint people to the Historic Preservation shambles that actually care about preserving Old Town because there are a lot of people in Key West who are annoyed at several recent decisions. Luckily the Mayor got the new city hall approved and I say luckily because I really like the location on White Street and the former school which may well look splendid. 
I live in the county so I don't vote in the city and with the pathetic turn out for a critical election I am sorry because my one vote could have made a difference! From my perspective Key West needs a vision and I remain skeptical that this new wave of commissioners will provide that but I hope for the best. Pedestrian zones anyone? Bicycle paths? Effective recycling? Solar power? Anything new and modern and forward looking...?