3 KEY COLONY BEACH COUNCIL CANDIDATES VYING FOR 2 OPEN SEATS – 2022 DECISION GUIDE

The Key Colony Beach City Commission race will leave out just one candidate, as three have qualified to vie for the two open seats on the commission. Incumbent Secretary-Treasurer John DeNeale commissioner Beth Ramsay-Vickrey will seek re-election along with current code enforcement board member Freddie Foster. The four-year term carries an annual salary of $13,604.13 ($16,735 if any eventually become mayor). We asked each candidate four questions to answer in 100 words or less. Selected responses are below, along with full answers at keysweekly.com.

1) What is your background here in the Keys, and why have you chosen to run for the City Commission?
2) What can you bring to the dais if elected?
3) What is the largest issue facing KCB’s citizens, and how can you aid in pursuit of a solution?
4) What is one issue for KCB residents that you feel has not received an appropriate amount of attention thus far and should be addressed?

BETH RAMSAY-VICKREY

  1. I am a currently seated Key Colony Beach City Commissioner, and I am running to retain my seat because protecting Key Colony Beach’s special sense of community and ensuring that Key Colony Beach stays the wonderful gem it is is my #1 priority! I’m a long-time Monroe County resident who grew up, and went to school, right next door in Marathon. I have found my forever home in Key Colony Beach; it is truly a special place where community comes first. I’ve been actively engaged in Monroe County government and politics, crafting legislation and setting policy for the past 16+ years.
  2. My relevant experience and community involvement includes serving four years as the Monroe County District II Planning Commissioner (I helped write our county’s current Land Development Code and Comprehensive Plan), six years on the Keys Energy Advisory Board, and ten years as a volunteer at our Florida Keys SPCA. I brought to the Key Colony Beach City Commission my hands-on working knowledge of planning and of constructing legislation, and a vast network of great personal and working relationships. And, in communicating with constituents, my recent “Commissioner Proposal to place the city commission agenda backup materials online prior to commission meetings” passed. 
  3. As with our Keys neighbors, vacation rentals, FEMA, flood maps, insurance, hurricanes, and storm hardening remain on the top of the list. I hope to aid in solutions through networking, lobbying, and the pursuit of grant monies to help address these county-wide issues. Of particular concern to our KCB residents are rebuilding City Hall and issues with our post office (staffing, relocation and continued operations). I have already taken steps to address our post office problems through my face-to-face conversation with our Congressman, alerting him to the current and projected issues. Relevant experience, good relationships and networking are key.
  4. Mitigating the negative impacts of vacation rentals to ensure the best quality of life for KCB residents and visitors alike, and ensuring we not only have a seat at the table, but a voice in decision making during county emergency operations (hurricanes). These issues can be addressed through better communication, better teamwork, better cooperation and stronger partnerships. As a KCB City Commissioner, I’ve been reaching out and having these conversations. I’ve been making sure we have a voice, and we are heard through the many meetings, planning sessions, and networking events I have been attending representing our residents and city.

JOHN DENEALE

  1. I retired from the U.S. Navy and moved to KCB in 2005, a place that my wife Susan and I had vacationed during our careers. We graduated from the University of Florida before serving in the Navy for over 22 years. We have always been supporters of our community, so helping our neighbors by serving our city comes naturally to us. My first term in office was in 2010 and I have been helping in our city since. I am a graduate of Leadership Monroe County, class XIX. KCB is our family and friends.
  2. My experience as mayor during hurricane Irma with our very successful recovery, and the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have helped me learn the leadership skills that will guide me through the challenges ahead for KCB. Keeping our citizens safe and our government operating efficiently have been my priorities throughout my years on the Commission.
  3. Global Warming and associated sea level rise present many challenges for KCB and the Keys. First, we must work with the county and state to ensure we can safely evacuate in the face of storm flooding. Secondly, we want to update our land development regulations to support renovations and reconstruction in the face of new FEMA flood maps. Third, we must protect our infrastructure and environment to ensure resiliency.  My many years working with local, state and federal politicians will help us navigate the legal and governance hurdles required to obtain solutions, and most importantly funding, to mitigate these challenges.
  4. KCB as all the Keys is faced with how to maintain the quality of life that we enjoy in the face of fast-growing vacation rentals. In KCB, vacation rentals are over 40% of our homes, up from 30% just five years ago. Further, the latest census shows that our resident population is decreasing. With vacation rentals growing, we still need a citizen population of like minded people sharing the same values to maintain the stability of our community.  We need strong leadership to keep our city’s values and character as the “Gem of the Florida Keys.”

FREDDIE FOSTER

  1. My wife Cheryl and I have been married for 45 years and have two sons, eight grandkids, and one great-grandson. We made many trips to the keys in search of our retirement home and in 2011 we found it in Key Colony Beach. I’ve served as Chair of the Utility Board and currently as an alternate on the Code Enforcement Board. I am running for the City Commission to ensure our quality of life continues. I believe that it’s crucial to communicate with neighbors, listen to opinions, volunteer on a committee, or, as I have chosen, run for a commission seat. 
  2. During my career, I worked in the nuclear power industry as a senior project manager responsible for complex multi-million-dollar projects. I also served as the Emergency Response Operations Manager and as Technical Support Maintenance Manager. This experience and expertise will provide a much-needed asset to the commission.  My focus will be transparency, communication, public engagement, fiscal responsibility, emergency response preparation, and completion of the KCB City Hall. 
  3. Rapid growth is affecting how Key Colony Beach is evolving.  We are faced with the fallout of Hurricane Irma, rising insurance rates, changes in building codes, and property development. The commission must ensure these forces are not burdening residents and homeowners with additional expenses or degrading the quality of life. Many homes are being purchased by nonresident investors seeking appreciation and rental income.  They now make up approximately 68% of the KCB population. We must be proactive in managing this trend or we will lose even more neighbors and our identity as the “Gem of the Florida Keys.” 
  4. Citizen concerns. Their voices are not always heard. As the environment and dynamics of the city change, we must find a balance between the resident citizens’ concerns, new state rules and regulations, and investors’ responsibilities. We need to work with homeowners, investment property owners, and local and state governments to find solutions. This can only be achieved by rolling up our sleeves, listening to the community and working together! A term we hear in the business community is “customer service.” We need to be focused on “citizens’ service” as well as our city’s business, development, and maintenance.  

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