So far, Middle and Lower Keys residents will have three options at the ballot box this fall for candidates to represent them on the Monroe County Commission.
Two Lower Keys men have registered alongside Marathon’s Michelle Coldiron inn hopes of representing District 2, which spans about 40 miles from Boca Chica Key in the Lower Keys north into a portion of Marathon. Commissioner George Neugent’s term is up in November and it will be his last of five four-year terms representing District 2.
Coldiron confirmed her candidacy earlier this month, followed by Lower Keys accountant Charles Weitzel and now, Sugarloaf Key resident Bill Hunter. He owns Key Tel, a data networking company.
All three are Republicans.
Weitzel, 59 and single with no children, has lived in the Keys full time since 1995 and calls it “The best place in the world.”
The Big Coppitt Key homeowner owns an accounting firm on Stock Island and said his experience as a CPA would help when it comes to the county budget. He has never run for a political office.
“Analyzing financial transactions will help the commission. It puts me in a unique position to understand what the needs of businesses and what their problems are,” he said.
Another issue he’d like to tackle if elected is recovery from September’s Category 4 Hurricane Irma, which caused widespread devastation, and the lack of affordable housing in Monroe County.
“The housing, affordable housing, it’s a huge issue, and because I own several rental units of my own, I do understand the rental market,” he said.
Hunter, a married father of two grown sons who lives on Sugarloaf Key, said he has attended every County Commission meeting for the last seven years and wants to bring the voice of the Lower Keys to the board.
His four focal points while campaigning, in this order, are: The environment, fiscal responsibility, housing and tourism, he said.
“We need to focus on the residents that live down here, the workers, the business owners, the residents and all segments of society,” he said.
Hunter serves on the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and is a former member of the Climate Change Advisory Committee helping to craft the county’s climate action plan. He also serves on the Marine and Ports Advisory Committee and is a board member of environmental group Last Stand.
“I understand the commission pretty well I know what they do how they do it,” he said. “There are existing that can be solved, and that we’ve been trying to solve for decades. And there will be new hurdles.”
Two other candidates, John Baker of Summerland Key and Lenore Baker of Big Pine Key (unrelated), have withdrawn from the race.
The election is Nov. 6.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219