Retired judge Payne running for Key West City Commission

Retired Monroe County Circuit Judge Richard Payne wants back in the election game.

He said Tuesday that he plans to run against incumbent Tony Yaniz for the Key West City Commission's District 4 seat. Payne said he received calls to run after retired restaurant owner Fredy Varela Sr. dropped out of the race earlier this month due to medical reasons. 

He believes his many years of experience, including being an assistant county attorney from 1975 to 1980, will help serve the community if elected.

"I am well qualified for that position. I have lived in District 4 for 44 years," he said.

Payne was a judge from March 1980 until 2013. He has also been a school teacher and a public defender.

The 73-year-old said he was instrumental in the construction of the Freeman Justice Center in Key West, which opened in 2008, alluding to the current construction of a new Key West city hall at the former Glynn Archer Elementary School site on White Street.

"I am familiar with large construction projects," Payne said.

Payne planned to get the paperwork necessary to file today. Since retiring, he has enjoyed life as a private citizen, reading books and buying a motorhome.

Outspoken Key West resident Margaret Romero and community activist Mike Mongo have announced they're running for the District 5 seat since current Commissioner Teri Johnston not seeking reelection.

In District 2, with Mark Rossi not seeking re-election, the race so far is Key West attorney Sam Kaufman, Key West resident Robert "Skip" O'Neil II and former Key West Mayor Morgan McPherson.

Official candidate qualifying with elections officials is noon Aug. 17 to noon Aug. 21. The city election is scheduled for Oct. 6. Commissioners serve three-year terms.