With current commissioner Sylvia Murphy electing not to re-run for office, the race for Monroe County’s District 5 pits Mike Forster against Jose Peixoto. The district covers North Key Largo to Tavernier.
Forster has lived in Monroe County since 1990. He’s the current mayor of Islamorada and owner of Mangrove Mike’s Cafe and Mangrove Mike’s Cafe at Bud N’ Mary’s Marina. Whether it’s helping disadvantaged children or working to preserve and restore the environment, Forster says he’s dedicated to improving quality of life for all who visit and reside in the Keys.
Peixoto, a non-party affiliated candidate, is a 27-year Key Largo resident. Peixoto says he’s running as an independent because he believes the issues he will fight for are important to everyone.
County commissioners are paid $46,851 per year.
The Keys Weekly asked the candidates to answer the following two questions in 100 words or less. (Answers are as submitted):
- Tidal flooding is a serious problem for communities in Key Largo including Twin Lakes and Stillwright Point. If elected, what actions would you take in budget season to set aside funding, or what specific revenue streams would you pursue to pay for road elevation?
- Coronavirus is expected to impact travel through 2021. What changes would you suggest for Tourist Development Council spending? Is now the time to advertise or to divert funds to brick and mortar projects?
- Budget season 2021 has already been passed by the BOCC, and there was no funding allocated for these Upper Keys projects. After meeting with both homeowners associations they cannot endure another year of kickin the can down their flooded roads. I would advocate that the BOCC work on bonding the project with a private/public partnership. It just makes sense for both the homeowners to protect their real estate investment and quality of life now, and for many years to come. And for the BOCC it will only enhance and increase the property taxes for future budgets.
- During the pandemic and looking into the immediate future of the TDC budget, I would recommend that they stay the course of advertising that we are open for business, and advise tourists of our guidelines that we have adopted by the CDC of wearing masks in confined spaces, washing your hands and avoiding crowded places. We are a water based economy and we can’t make up for lost revenue due to the shut down, but we can responsibly move on to whatever is the new acceptable norm, and we could use the TDC for that very important messaging.
- Politicians use the same canned answers, I prefer practical solutions. No. 1, quickly implementing the toll system will bring revenues that should be directed to deal with this issue. No. 2, the TDC has a gigantic budget, and frankly, we do not need more advertising for the Keys. At this point we should direct some of the funds raised by the TDC to solve other challenges, such as tidal flooding. No. 3, this is a large scale challenge and there are funds available on a state and federal level and we should go get it.
- Right now is 100% the time to change and scale down the TDC. The world has already discovered the Florida Keys. Marketing the Keys should still be done, but perhaps the Chamber of Commerce is better suited. The $59-million-plus funds raised by the TDC via hotel taxes and other allocations should be directed to solve the challenges that our residents face, plain and simple. Most residents support that and vote for me will make that happen.