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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Key West Hometown PAC

So last night there was a meeting of Key West Hometown PAC (political action committee) at Monty's at the lower end of Caroline Street. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce announced and potential candidates for upcoming city elections for the utility board, city commission, and mayor.

One person announced for the utility board and said that he had been serving on the CRB (citizen's review board -- police review) that is an unpaid job. He said the utility board position is a paid job, so he wants to do that. At least he is honest. Talk about civic duty!

One of the candidates for city commission gave a very authoritative description of his qualifications in business, family, and civic affairs. He recited the numerous committees, organizations, and boards that he has served on, always ending up as president. After the meeting, I commented to Peter Batty Jr., a realtor who used to be in my office and who is also a potential candidate, that I am always suspicious of people who have served on so many boards. I quipped "Can't they do just one thing really well!"

Leading up to the mayoral candidates, a couple of people suggested that all candidates and their partisans keep the campaigns clean and free of dirty tricks and personal assassinations. I wondered what they were referring to.

Mayor Morgan McPherson led off by repeating his campaign slogan from two years ago when he first won the position: balance and integrity. He then recited a litany of his accomplishments and proposals for the future. Next up was a perennial candidate who said he's really a non-candidate because he does not run to win, but to discuss the issues. What an ego to think that he will bring a higher level of discourse because of his presence! Then Heather Caruthers spoke. I was very impressed by her as were many in the audience. She said she has not decided whether to run or not because of other current commitments. But I liked her. And then former Mayor Jimmy Weekly got up.

Jimmy Weekly started off by announcing that he had not made up his mind yet, but that when he did the first person he would tell is Morgan McPherson. And then in a louder and more intense strain he added "That is more than Morgan did when he decided to do when he ran against me" or something to that affect. He then pointed out several vital issues that Key West needs to address politically in the near future including becoming a "green city", developing a real affordable housing policy, cleaning up Duval Street (saying it has become dirty!), and enacting new laws to manage the expected growth more effectively.

The former mayor still works at his regular job as the meat cutter at his family owned grocery store FAUSTOS. He made a really pertinent comment about how he had to reinvent his business as the Old Town of years gone by changed with the gentrification that has occured in the last 15 years. In th e old days the store was a typical neighborhood market with basic groceries and a meat counter. Nothing high end. But several years ago the transformation began. The meat counter introduced certified prime Angus beef, "designer" chicken, a sushi station with sushi chefs preparing dishes for takeout. The deli expanded to offer Boars Head meats and cheeses and homemade salads. The fruti and vegetable department grew as did all of the other grocery lines. And then they added the best wine selection in Key West. Mayor Weekly pointed out that as the town changed, he had to adapt if he was to succeed. And he said the city has to adapt to the changes that are occuring across South Florida and those that are imposing themselves on Key West in particular.

Jimmy Weekly lost the last election by about 40 votes. I didn't vote that election. I thought he was a sure winner and that my vote wasn't necessary. I was a political science major in college. I know the value of a single vote. What a fool I was.

After the meeting I heard why some of the candidates made comments about keeping the contest clean: a smear campaign has already been launched by some people against Jimmy Weekly. Typical Key West.

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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.