Craig Cates no longer has to mount an election campaign for his County Commission run.

Governor Ron DeSantis called Cates Tuesday morning and, after a brief conversation,  appointed him to complete the term of retiring County Commissioner Danny Kolhage.

Cates was running for the District 1 commission seat against long-shot Republican challenger Andy Williams. County Tax Collector Danise Henriquez also is running for the seat in the general election next year.

“The governor just called me 20 minutes ago,” an excited Cates told Keys Weekly the morning of Dec. 10. “He said he’d recently been in Key West. He asked if I was retired, and what I wanted to accomplish on the commission. He said I have a lot of support in the community and that he’d like to appoint me to represent District 1.”

Cates said he was thrilled by the opportunity. “I’m getting in a year early,” he said. “I’ll serve out Commissioner Kolhage’s term, which ends in November, and then I’ll have to run for re-election.” But by then, he’ll be running as an incumbent, which is typically the preferred position of a political candidate.

Cates said his commission opponent Henriquez had also applied for the appointment, along with former Tourist Development Council member Steve Smith. “They’re both Democrats, and you’d have to assume a Republican governor will appoint a Republican,” Cates said, adding that his first County Commission meeting will be in January, but he plans to spend the coming weeks getting to know the county staff, departments and operations. “It’s time to get to work.”


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