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This searing, September Monday was compounded by broiling debate. The candidates for District VI, Incumbent Commissioner Lopez and challenger James Marquardt, descended onto the VFW on Bahama Village’s Emma Street. Also in attendance: the four mayoral candidates: Incumbent Morgan McPherson, challengers Mike Mongo, Craig Cates and Sloan Bashinsky.
As the Key West Weekly seized a seat and we’ll start with the mayoral elections.
“I’m running for mayor to stop corrupt cronyism,” Mike Mongo opening statements.
The partner of a multi-media firm Wodumedia going on, to say his immediate focus is on jobs for grads, more cops on the streets and to start a series of green tech initiatives.
Mayor McPherson noting he is committed to the many hours the position requires and he will bring experience forward.
“I have time to give 110% for the community I love,” Craig Cates, a businessman for 22-years in the running told the crowd. “I bring fresh ideas and fresh eyes.”
Sloan Bashinsky, a former attorney, turning the focus from himself to Commissioner Lopez wife’s daycare center.
“Every daycare center except commissioner Lopez’s is paying market rent.”
Referring to the $1, he says, Commissioner Lopez’s wife pays per year.
The prelude to the mayoral candidates was a warlike battle between City Commission Incumbent for District VI Clayton Lopez and his challenger James Marquardt. Lopez accused Marquardt of “misleading the people.”
“The area (Truman Waterfront) in question is not the same piece of property. Nobody has come up with a concrete proposal.”
But Marquardt defended himself saying, “In regards to the entire parcel we don’t know what’s there.”
When asked if they budget could be reduced, and if so by what items, Lopez noted, “it’s already bare bones and lean meat. We can’t do much more cutting at this point.”
Look at salaries and staffing is how Marquardt responded, “A city the size of Key West does not need 2 ½ City Managers.”
Another question posed by Hometown PAC concerns new businesses. Are they necessary and if so, which ones are appropriate?
“I can better tell you what is not appropriate,” Lopez spoke into the mic. “I’m against t-shirt shops with bongs in windows.”
“We need to be attracting businesses like Green Republic,” noted Marquardt referring to the new vegan eatery on Fleming Street. “They’re young entrepreneurs and are a little light on the corner in regards with what’s happening in our economy.”
Back to Cates, Mongo, McPherson and Bashinsky, all in agreement the development, which hasn’t happened of the Truman Annex, is one of the biggest failures of the city.
When it comes to the issue of homeless residents, Sloan called attention to his own situation on the streets years ago, and as a community, we’re only wasting our time trying to change them.
“I’ve lived with them, fought with them, cried with them. A lot of then are good people. A lot of them are bad people. Just keep the soup kitchen open and call the police off them. They choose that way of life,” Bashinsky solidified.
Cates saying, there’s “no magic wand”, and “its only going to get worse.”
Mayor McPherson told the crowd there are multiple facets to the homeless community, including mental illness. “We need to use our city resources to promote health and integrate them back into our community.
Mongo suggested that we have three classes of homeless people the leisure class, who “are just vagabonds,” the mentally ill, and the “good-for-nothings.”
“We are obligated to help the mentally ill, the people who have fallen through the cracks. As for the good-for-nothings asking for a hand-out, they can do to county and stop antagonizing locals and visitors.”
The four men also agreed we need to increase the number of police officers and retain those trained in Key West, and they would make themselves accessible to the public through email, texting and attending community events.
“I just had to double my minutes to 3,000,” remarked Cates.
As for business and personal interests being overshadowed by decisions at city hall, Mongo addressed the crowd first, “I absolutely feel that is a problem right now. Why are Miami attorneys investing in the Key West Mayoral campaign? I do not represent one; I represent all. I represent all the people who walk up to me and tell me how they feel about everything all the time, so I might as well be mayor.”
“I think the opportunity at hand,” says Mayor McPherson, “is always keep a transparent resource that allows anyone to come in and anyone to come out. You have to have substance when you’re making decisions. Apply practical wisdom and intelligence that they have.”
“I think communication is very important,” Cates notes, “I have a history of integrity and when I say something people can trust me.”
Bashinsky saying it’s the dumbest question he’s ever heard of in his life. “Of course everyone is concerned about this. I don’t want campaign contributions I have no ties to the Bubba system, the Conchs, I don’t belong to anybody, nothing. I don’t want anyone saying they gave to my campaign and now I owe them something.”
The next Hometown PAC Forum is Monday, September 21.
Jimmy Weekley and Tom Milone will address the crowd with their responses.
Craig, Morgan, Sloan and Mike will also be in attendance.
Place Tropic Cinema
Forum: 6 pm
If you can’t make it, follow Josie on Twitter! josiekwweekly Covering your Islands, All the Time! Online and in Print!
District VI Incumbent City Commissioner Clayton Lopez (left) and challenger James Marquardt (right) on stage at the VFW in Key West’s Bahama Village for Hometown PAC’s Forum #2.