It’s a big year for turnover on the Marathon City Council. With the unexpected resignation of councilman Trevor Wofsey in January, the 2022 general election will now decide four open council seats instead of three. So far, nine candidates have filed, with more possibly on the way – official qualifying for the race runs from Aug. 2-9.
Two voter referendums on August’s primary ballot will have significant impacts on the race, as they could potentially change both the term lengths and election pattern for the open seats.
One potential amendment to the city’s charter would change the term of office for council members from three to four years, extending the total term limit to eight years.
A second amendment would attempt to prevent grossly uneven turnover on the dais by ensuring that the five total seats would always be up for re-election in groups of two or three. If this amendment is approved, the candidate who receives the fewest votes out of the four council members elected this November would serve a shorter term, if necessary, to line up with the expiration of councilman Luis Gonzalez’s current term.
James “Mike” Leonard is a 42-year resident of the Keys and the current CEO of Marathon Shores, LLC, an investment banking firm. Calling an explosion of growth in Marathon “out of control” over the last five years, he plans to pursue an independent report evaluating Marathon’s infrastructure, as well as a proposed “Marathon Housing and Finance Authority” to tackle the ongoing housing issues for Marathon residents.
Coral ecologist Kevin Macaulay says the city of Marathon, like the coral reefs he has devoted himself to protecting and restoring, requires “knowledgeable, resourceful and responsible stewardship.” As a 36-year-old working class resident, Macaulay says he would bring an underrepresented voice to the table, where he plans to focus on development regulation and increased investment in public and natural resources to restore Marathon’s sense of community and defend the environment on which the Keys economy depends.
Welder, fabricator and real estate agent Kenny Matlock was born and raised in Marathon. If elected, he intends to eliminate “wasteful spending” in day-to-day city operations. Though much of Marathon’s vacation rental issues are state-controlled, Matlock intends to add to current code enforcement efforts and explore avenues to make the BPAS system more palatable for local families looking to build a home. “I believe we need a council that stands up for locals and fights for them against corruption,” he said.
Wayne Quarberg first came to the Keys in 1979. He is the owner of SCUBA supplier Ocean Equipment in Marathon, which he started in 1981. He lists restoration of May6rathon’s community feel as his top priority, saying that “catering to big money developers and investors from outside our city has destroyed Marathon as a hometown. … I am running to be the voice for all the people of Marathon and bring back our hometown community.”
Royal Furniture General Manager Jeff Smith is a 45-year Marathon resident who grew up on Grassy Key and has served in leadership roles for many community organizations and government committees. With expertise in economics, finance and executive management, Smith believes Marathon would benefit from greater fiscal oversight and “thorough financial analysis behind policy decisions.” In addition, he believes that his economics background and experience in the affordable housing arena and planning commission provides a foundation to advocate for policies to stem the effects of vacation rentals.
Incumbent Robyn Still is seeking re-election after her appointment to the council in February. A resident of Marathon since 2016, Still and her husband became co-owners of The Tackle Box in Marathon following Robyn’s 22-year career in law enforcement. Eager to “hit the ground running” after her previous service, Still says she plans to continue the battle for home rule and explore incentive programs to provide childcare credits and more long-term rental housing for Marathon’s workforce.
Richard Tamborrino arrived in the Keys in 2013 and has served as the publisher for four Keys newspapers. He hopes to bring his experience running large businesses in the Keys over to the dais, ensuring fiscal accountability and an open and accessible city government. “I view this as an extension of my public service work for the newspapers,” he said. “As a retired Keys businessperson, I can provide residents with responsible and thoughtful representation.”
Ingrid Tyree, a 3 ½-year resident of Marathon after living in the islands on and off for 16 years, says she is running for a council seat to bring “transparency, truth and common sense to our community.” Known in Marathon for her dedication to helping the homeless, children and economically challenged individuals with personal assistance initiatives, Tyree intends to pursue more frequent and open communication with citizens by recommending additional council meetings and open town hall forums.
Nine-year planning commission veteran Lynn Landry is the latest candidate to declare for the race. Though Keys Weekly was able to catch up with him only briefly before this magazine went to print, Landry has worked in the construction industry for more than 30 years after earning a degree in business administration. “I’m running because I care about the city and its future,” he said.
Look for additional candidate questionnaires in upcoming editions of the Marathon Weekly.