With just about a month left before the November general election, candidates for Marathon City Council are peppering the calendar with socials, rallies, and fundraisers.
As of Monday, September 27, Dick Ramsay leads all Marathon candidates with $10,900 in contributions. Worthington, Snead, and Larry Shaffer have all raked in more than $5,000 and Bicycle Joannie Nelson has raised $80 and spent $31.61.
Three of the five council seats are up for grabs this year and besides perennial candidate Nelson, the three incumbents are joined by retired Naval Chief Warrant Officer and former Marathon Planning Commission Chairman Larry Shaffer.
Shaffer, who held a Meet & Greet at the Hurricane a couple weeks ago, has been walking the streets of Marathon and listening to voters.
“I thought the economy was going to be the number one issue,” Shaffer said. “But the people have told me that the council is withdrawn and may not be listening.”
He said public input is not taken as serious as it used to be which is evidenced on the Council’s agenda. Residents may speak for two minutes at the beginning of the meeting and if they hang around to the end, are granted another two minutes for comments.
Shaffer also said the Council’s will to move forward with the stormwater/wastewater project is commendable.
“Marathon bought the bullet,” he said. “Politically they could’ve paid for it. It takes political courage to do stuff that is unpopular, but you still know it needs to be done.”
Commercial fishermen and three-term councilman Pete Worthington first served on the Council from 2002-2004, lost his seat, and was subsequently re-elected in 2006, and 2008. Worthington is already the longest serving council member in the history of Marathon and if re-elected in November, he will have served on the dais for nine years when he term limits out in 2012.
“We are receptive to the people’s issues with city government,” he said. “That is the key thing. If people are unhappy they can come to us with complaints.”
Worthington said the next Council needs to be more active in protecting property values through beautification, code enforcement, and tourism. He feels the a commercial carrier at the Marathon Airport should be a priority and is frustrated that the Council did not vote to support the Chamber of Commerce’s plea for funds earlier this year. (Worthington and Cinque lost a 3-2 vote.) He cited the Council’s support of FIRM as an example of how the city can spend money to save money.
“After we supported FIRM, my personal premium went from $7,400 to $3,700. If we did that for 7000 households, that’s major!”
Ginger Snead was the highest vote-getter in 2008 when just over 19% of those casting ballots elected her to the City Council. She currently holds the title of Mayor while owning and operating the physical therapy clinic, Advantage Rehab.
“I am pleased with the diversity of thought and discussion during our meetings,” said Snead. “We all see different things that need to be worked on.” This past Tuesday, the Council argued increasing rates at the City Marina, but sent the schedule back to staff to keep the new rates from negatively impacting the year-round residents of the harbor.
Snead said those same discussions occasionally turn dark.
“There are times when we don’t treat each other with the utmost professionalism,” she said. “I realize we are a small town and loose in the way we do things, but sometimes we are not kind to each other.”
In 2008, more than 2,000 people elected retired businessman Dick Ramsay to his first term. After moving to the Keys with his family in early 70s, Ramsay and his family ran a small auto service station before County regulations inspired him to push for the incorporation of Marathon.
“The Council really is in it for the good of the people,” Ramsay said, adding that the current Council’s collection of backgrounds translates into a well-rounded representation of the residents.
However, Ramsay feels the Council needs to do more to stimulate the local economy without strangling the business community with bureaucratic oversight.
“I am in favor of bringing in business and I think that we as a council can make accommodations to make it more attractive to come here,” he said, referring to his plan to bring customs to Marathon and the possibility of extending incentives to local and transplanted businesses.
Meet the Candidates
On Monday, October 18, the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce and Weekly Newspapers will sponsor a Candidate Forum at the Marathon Government Center beginning at 6:30 pm. Candidates for State Representative, County Commission, and Marathon City Council will be present. The public is encouraged to attend.
Having forgotten to bring a camera, Larry’s campaign missed taking a photo of the meet and greet at the Hurricane. So here is the only good photo he has according to Larry.
Bicycle Joannie is the self-proclaimed “Champion of the Little People.” Pictured at Dick Ramsay’s Barracuda Meet & Greet with her boyfriend, Tom.
Pete Worthington met with supporters at Keys Fisheries. Worthington is the longest serving councilman in the history of Marathon.
Dick Ramsay met with supporters at the Barracuda Grill this past Wednesday night. Pictured, from left: Anthony Culver, Rick Ramsay, Dick, Luis Gonzalez, and Michelle Coldiron.
Last week, Ginger Snead hosted a gathering at the Grassy Key Marina to follow up with her campaign kickoff party at the Hurricane. Pictured, from left: Shayna Halladay, Charlotte Quinn, Ed Krane, Donna Schwartz, Ginger, Mike Savinelli, and Sue Haines.