Sailing to Marathon in 1985, Monroe County Mayor George Neugent, now in his fifth term, fell in love with the island at first sight, then fell in love with his wife of 14 years, Suzie Walsh.
Working in oil drilling out of Louisiana after college, he turned to the restaurant business in the Keys, owning and running Porky’s and Dock & Deli for years. He became very involved in the community while on the Marathon Chamber of Commerce and the Marathon Economic Development Council. “Someone asked me to run for the open Monroe County Commission seat for District II,” he said working from his Florida room, turned secondary office that overlooks his garden in Marathon. “I’m always wanting to help our community and accept a challenge.”
Terri Colonna, executive assistant to Commissioner Neugent, has been working for George since he was first elected. “I always said, ‘When working for him isn’t interesting anymore, or I’m not having fun, I am moving on,’” she said, from Neugent’s Big Pine Key office. “Here I still am 20 years later!”
- Full Name? George Robert Neugent.
- Nickname? Bubba.
- Weirdest thing that has come before the commission in your last five terms? Old World Screw Worm, an eradicated fly that burrows into wounds of warm-blooded mammals. The fly shows up in my district, from only God knows where, and was wreaking tragic havoc on the beloved Key Deer.
- If you could put one famous person in elected position in the Keys, who and why? George Clooney, because my wife asked/told me to.
- Who is your celebrity crush and why? Ingrid Bergman, played leading role in my favorite movie, “Casablanca,” with my favorite actor Humphrey Bogart.
- What did you want to be when you grew up? Still trying to figure that out.
- What’s the funniest Keys story? I used to run sunset cruises out of Porky’s. With a full boat of people, I had turned the motor off to enjoy a peaceful sunset. After the sun set the motor would not start and we drifted under the Old Seven Mile Bridge. A group of nuns, in full habit, who had been dining at Porky’s earlier, were now on the bridge. They waved, did the sign of the cross, and I hit the starter and the engine fired right up.
- Which TV movie or superhero character is your alter ego? Chuck Yeager — WWII and Korea veteran, P-51 fighter pilot, first pilot to break sound barrier.
- What is your nerdiest passion? Working in my yard. (He has quite the organic garden filled with fruit trees, orchids, and native plants.)
- If you could take one item on a deserted island … ? Fishing pole.
- What are some of the more important things you’ve been a part of during your tenure on the commission? The Old Seven Mile Bridge restoration, creation of the Marathon Community Park and Big Pine Community Park, and more news to come soon in the near future.
- What was your first thought this morning? Is Trump’s term in office up, yet?
- Favorite guilty pleasure? Drinking scotch with friends.
- Pet peeve about your job? That some people aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy.
- Funniest misconception about those in political office? The greenies think we’re in the pockets of developers and the developers think we’re all a bunch of greenies.
- The boat is sinking, what do you grab? My “Why Is It Sinking” book. (The mayor likes to read; some of his other favorites are “A Land Remembered” and “The Sixth Extinction.”
- Dream meal: you are sitting at a diner counter eating, who walks in and sits next to you? Ernest Hemingway.
- Best vacation spot and why? Are you kidding me? I sailed there/here 32 years ago!
Finish these sentences…
19. At the end of a rainbow there is … empty Scotch bottles.
20. I live by the motto … be honest with myself and fair to all.