Marathon Mayor Michelle Coldiron won the Republican primary and will face off with Democrat Tommy Ryan in the November general election for the District 2 seat of the Monroe County Commission. She received 48.29 percent of the votes, while Chuck Weitzel earned 36.43 percent and Debbie Halama earned 15.27 percent.
Almost 8,000 voters cast a ballot in this race. Most of them were by absentee ballot (3,828) and early voting (1,067). Another 3,074 voted on election day. In total, Coldiron received 3,380 votes to Weitzel’s 2,550.
“I am going to sleep for 48 hours and then start working again,” said Coldiron, after the win, smiling. She spent election day visiting almost every precinct in the Florida Keys, starting in Key Largo and working her way down to Key West. She and her supporters wore their purple shirts and carried purple signs in solidarity.
She said she has a solid plan for the next two months.
“Up and down the Keys, people are complaining about the permitting and code process and I want to see what we can do to streamline that process,” Coldiron said. “On Friday, I have a meeting with the people from Florida Keys Community Land Trust, Maggie’s group, to learn the game plan for how they can continue doing what they are. I like that type of private-public partnership using outside sources that don’t get caught up in government red tape.”
She also said she will continue to spread the message about hurricane recovery. “I want to get the message out that there is still help for people who need it,” she said.
Ryan, who will begin his campaign in earnest now, said he will continue to focus on the hurricane’s impact and the recovery still needed in District 2.
“We were hit the hardest. We’re not recovered yet. Key West is recovered, Key Largo is recovered — pretty much everybody north of Marathon,” he said. He said he wants to emphasize the need to have cleanup contracts in place before the storm hits, as well as backup plans. Ryan said most subjects he cares about are related to the hurricane in some way — whether that’s affordable housing or a living wage.
“I had two adult children who couldn’t ‘make it’ in the Keys — it’s just too expensive,” he said. “We are losing firefighters and teachers. We need to watch costs, but we are losing money by training firefighters, seeing them leave, and retraining new ones.”
Weitzel arrived at the Harvey Government Center after the race had been called to shake Coldiron’s hand and offer his congratulations. The day after, Weitzel urged Ryan and Coldiron to focus on the county’s fiscal responsibility.
“Don’t buy Murray Marine for $8 million. The county has no business buying a marina,” he said, adding that he will continue to attend the once-a-month, day-long county commission meetings in order to keep an eye on the budget. He said he also hopes the county can come up with a better, less-expensive solution for ground-level homes destroyed by the storm.