Key West mayor, one commissioner draw opponents for Nov. 8 election

Key West voters this fall will decide whether to give Mayor Craig Cates a fifth and final two-year term as three candidates Friday qualified to run against him Nov. 8.

Cates, a Key West native and former auto parts store owner, was first elected in 2009 and was forced to run for a one-year term in 2013 because the city chose to shift its elections to coincide with statewide contests.

But three others also want the job, which pays $22,500 a year: Minister Randy Becker, perennial candidate Sloan Bashinsky and Ed “Krane” Karsch, who produces an e-mail entertainment newsletter.

At last count this year, Key West had 15,831 registered voters in ten precincts.

Key West’s seven-member City Commission had three seats up for re-election this fall but only one drew opposition when the books closed at noon Friday.

Commissioners Billy Wardlow and Jimmy Weekley were both re-elected automatically. Commissioner Clayton Lopez will face Nathan Remus Brock, 35, an active-duty National Guardsman stationed with the Air Force, for the seat that represents District 6, which includes Bahama Village.

Brock, originally from West Virginia and a Key West resident for three years, said Friday he hasn’t yet launched a campaign because he is awaiting approval from the military, which he said makes an exception for running in a nonpartisan elections. Lopez, a fourth-generation Key Wester re-elected in 2013 without opposition, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Friday.

Commissioners earn a $20,000 annual salary and are eligible for health benefits and a phone allowance.

Utility Board members

Key West voters will also settle two races for the Utility Board, which oversees policy for Keys Energy Services, which provides electricity between Key West and the Seven Mile Bridge. Peter Batty, Sr., the board’s current chairman, and Tim Root, each have competitors on the November ballot.

Batty faces Tom Milone, who twice ran for City Commission and ran for another Utility Board seat last year, while Root has two opponents: Carol Schreck, executive assistant to county Mayor Heather Carruthers, and photographer Vidal, who ran for the board in 2013.

Members earn $19,663 a year and the chairman, selected by the board, earns $23,408. All get paid health insurance and a $50,000 life insurance policy.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen on Twitter