This November, Islamorada residents will head to polls with a lot of important decisions to make. Among other ballot items, they will elect the five members of its village council.
So far, three candidates have officially filed for council: David Purdo, Kenneth Davis, and incumbent Mike Forster. The three can now start collecting signatures for candidate petitions, and once they’ve set up their campaign account, can begin collecting contributions and making official expenditures.
All five of Islamorada’s village council members serve concurrent two-year terms, but at the Jan. 18 general meeting, council and staff discussed the idea of staggered terms. Village staff were directed to prepare a referendum item for this year’s ballot to let voters to decide.
The village council is also tasked with choosing fellow members to serve a one-year terms as mayor and vice mayor. The mayor serves as ceremonial head of the village, but has no day-to-day role in village operations.
Longtime Islamorada resident, David Purdo, entered the race for Seat 2 in March. Incumbent councilwoman Cheryl Meads currently holds the seat. Meads defeated Purdo and David Boerner as a first time candidate in 2016. At time of press, no other candidates have filed for Seat 2.
If elected, Purdo has his sights set on expediting the development of more affordable/workforce housing.
“I think one of the most important issue we have, not only in the Village, but all of Monroe County, is workforce housing. Since Irma it’s gotten worse,” said Purdo. “Where are our police officers, nurses, workers, and fishing captain supposed to live? Some people can’t afford upwards of $2,400 in rent. I sat on the Monroe county housing authority for a number of years, and saw that we have an issue and we need to solve it.”
Kenneth Davis was the first to declare for village council back in January. He is looking to succeed Mayor Chris Sante, who will not seek re-election. Davis said his three biggest items if elected are keeping Islamorada and its council strong and unified, increasing the policing presence of FWC officers, and simplifying the requirements for building in the village.
“I think we need a simplification of building rules and laws. Not an easing, only a simplification,” said Davis. “People shouldn’t have to hire an attorney and architect to make a change to their home.”
Incumbent Michael Foster is in his sixth consecutive year of serving as councilman, and has served a total of 10 years. The restaurateur turned public servant has spearheaded a number of initiatives in his most recent term, most notably water quality issues related to Florida Bay and affordable housing. Forster says the issue of collecting reimbursement money from FEMA is also of the highest priority to keep the village’s general fund balance stable. Forster is also in conversations with FWC and local law enforcement to add more officers to the village’s roadways and waterways.
For those interested in filing for village council, candidate packages are available by contacting Village Clerk Kelly Toth at (305) 664-6412. Qualifying dates for village council elections are from Aug. 14 – 21. The deadline to file to run for Village Council is Tuesday, Aug. 21 at noon.
Residents have to live in the Village of Islamorada to vote for council members. Voters can request absentee ballots be sent by mail from KeysElections.org and check their voter registration status prior to the election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.