Monroe County Seal

Monroe County’s District 3 includes the western portion of Key West, where Democrat incumbent Commissioner Heather Carruthers is seeking another four-year term. 

Republican Eddie Martinez, a professional surveyor, is challenging Carruthers, who has served this year as the county mayor, an administrative title that changes hands each year among the five county commissioners. 

In other words, no one runs for the position  of county mayor. The seated commissioners take turns serving as mayor, signing legislation, running meetings and casting the deciding vote on contentious issues.

The Keys Weekly asked Carruthers and Martinez to answer the following two questions in 100 words or less (answers are as submitted, edited for length):

1. The idea of a toll on U.S. 1 at the top of the Florida Keys has been discussed, off and on, for more than 20 years, but never seems to progress. If elected, how would you pitch the idea to the state Department of Transportation to make it more palatable?

2. In 2023, the state will no longer issue market-rate building rights to Monroe County. Do you favor holding onto affordable housing building rights to mitigate possible takings lawsuits from property owners who will not be able to acquire building permits? Why or why not?

CANDIDATE RESPONSES

HEATHER CARRUTHERS (incumbent)
Political party: Democrat
Age: Older than I look, I hope 
Current job: County Commissioner and Realtor

1. First, we need to change Title 23, Chapter 301 of the United States Code prohibiting tolls on federal roads to include our road in the “exceptions” per section 129 of the code. This overcomes one FDOT objection. Then we need to demonstrate to the State/FDOT the extraordinary cost of mitigating sea level rise impacts on our infrastructure, and remind them that we will be asking the State to help pay for it. We will make this case to the FDOT secretary and governor, reminding them that we are a donor sales tax county and an unparalleled state and national asset.

2. No. The BOCC adjusted the ROGO allocation system by reducing the number of permits issued annually, thereby extending the deadline to 2026 to give us more time to develop strategies and identify revenue sources to mitigate takings lawsuits. We do not have enough workforce (affordable) housing in the Keys. Only 21% of our ad valorem revenue comes from homesteaded properties. As a Realtor, I see second home-ownership increasing, exacerbating the workforce housing crisis. Using affordable ROGOs for takings may still leave us vulnerable to Burt Harris claims and won’t solve the crisis for which affordable ROGOs were created.

EDDIE MARTINEZ 
Political party: Republican
Age: 45

Current job: Professional surveyor and mapper, paralegal, merchant marine captain, technical scuba dive instructor, chief range safety officer, firearms instructor. First aid, BLS instructor.

1. Simple…go around them. We do not need their permission, contrary to my opponent’s opinion. The expert on this subject is me. I’ve gone up against FDOT many times and I never lost a case. I certainly will not lose this one where there is case law in Florida. I’ve been saying how to do it for over 15 years. Everyone knows it. 

2. We should be in charge of our own destiny when it comes to land rights in Monroe county. All you need is someone who actually understands them, that someone is me!

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