Fourteen candidates enter for five hotly-contested Islamorada Village Council seats on Tuesday, Nov. 8 With the most candidates seen in the village’s history, the hopefuls consist of incumbents and newcomers, Conchs and longtime residents and men and women of all backgrounds. Now through Election Day, the Upper Keys Weekly will ask the candidates questions on key issues facing the village.

Answers are printed exactly as submitted by candidates, with responses limited to 150 words.

The Upper Keys Weekly asked the candidates: Why should Islamorada vote for you? 


Sue Miller

Change is needed in Islamorada. Haven’t we reached a point where critical issues need to be diligently addressed? We need to start with a strategic plan addressing our real priorities.

Our environment is the reason I came here 40 years ago. It is the reason we have had a thriving economy. We must find ways to assure the environment and the economy remain healthy and sustainable. Limited infrastructure and the fragile environment are under tremendous pressure. Innovative solutions are needed to address traffic, workforce housing, our budget, illegal vacation rentals.

All citizens deserve equitable treatment, starting with Village code that is fair. Eliminate loopholes. Decisions must be made based on “what,” not “who.”

I have attended council meetings, served on committees, researched solutions, and done my homework for years. I am ready to promote change: transparency, community engagement, fair treatment for all. Our quality of life is at stake. 

Buddy Pinder

I have spent my life living, working and playing in Islamorada. Each day I feel so blessed that I can call this place home. It is important that you elect a Councilman that understands the history of our community. Someone who appreciates the culture and uniqueness of the Keys and someone who will fight to protect our waters and natural resources. In my short time on the council, I have served as your mayor and diligently worked to make Islamorada a better place to live. I work with state officials in Tallahassee and served on the Florida League of Mayors Board of Directors. I am committed to keeping up-to-date on the latest issues impacting our village so that we can protect and enhance the quality of life that is enjoyed by our residents. When re-elected, I will work tirelessly to make sure Islamorada is a place our children and our grandchildren will love as much as we have!


Mary Barley

I have spent every day of the last 30 years working to save Florida Bay and will spend every day of the next 2 years when elected working for you, the residents of our Village.

I am steadfast, experienced, knowledgeable and committed.

As a prior developer in Orlando, I understand the economic and the environmental issues. When I began working on Florida Bay the proposed fix was cleaning out the culverts on Tamiami Trail. 30 years later we are on the brink of success with real solutions to protect and deliver water to Florida Bay, Why is this important? Because I never give up. I can work with all parties and accomplish big things. I’m solution oriented and when necessary, think outside the box. I managed lobbyists, attorneys, legal matters in Washington DC and Tallahassee and lobbied government agencies for decades. I know the issues, am prepared and ready.

Mark Gregg

Islamorada needs leadership with prior Council experience, local knowledge of the issues, challenges and opportunities, and proven dedication to serve our community. I have served the islands and people that I love since 1987 as a local real estate attorney, 6 years on the Village Council (including one year each as Mayor and Vice Mayor), 7 years on the Land Planning Agency (LPA), and 3 years on the Achievable Housing Committee. I served as a member of the Upper Keys Rotary Club, a board member for I.CARE, and as a founding board member of Florida Bay Forever. In 1998, I built the first 3 deed restricted affordable houses permitted by the Village, taught evening Business Law classes at the College of the Florida Keys, and worked part time as a commercial fisherman. If re-elected, I will be ready to work at full speed on day one with no learning curve!


Pete Bacheler

I’m a thirty-seven-year resident of Islamorada and am a private land use planner. I spent five years chairing the Village Land Planning Agency (LPA) and elected to the Council where I’m finishing my second year. I know building, zoning, planning, and permitting as well as our staff. This background makes me the most qualified of those running for the Council office. The choice for Village Council seat 3 is Pete Bacheler.

Elizabeth Jolin

With fourteen people running for office, Islamorada voters have the chance to vote for the status quo or vote for change.

I call for change – and will do everything I can to streamline the Village Code so we can rely on a process (rather than the whims and personal preferences of the council ) to conduct business. 

I call for change – and will insist on making a strategic plan to actively direct the future of the town by functioning with an understanding of what the town needs and wants. The alternative is to continue to function in a “response to crisis mode” that does little for fiscal, economic and environmental responsibility. 

I call for change – and see a connection between the environment and the economy and will attach urgency to environmental advocacy at the local state and federal level.

I am grateful to have been part of this election cycle and believe more than ever that good people make good government. 

Thank you for your vote.


John Timura

I am not a politician. As a 28-year-resident of Islamorada, I am only running to ensure that Islamorada is a place that I will STILL want to live in 20 years from now. Instead of attacking issues from the front side in the same way that everybody else has, I have a unique ability for cutting them into smaller tasks, finding the leverage points, focusing on what’s really important, and attacking the problem from a completely different angle. Preserving our quality of life as residents is a must. Any further efforts to increase population density in Islamorada should be scrutinized heavily. By subsidizing rents, I have a way to make housing affordable for our work force so that our businesses can find employees with no added building density. Preserving our natural environment, as well as our human living environment and solving our achievable housing stalemate without additional building, are what I want to be remembered for.

Henry Rosenthal 

I have extensive experience and a proven track record. I trust the people of Islamorada will make the best choice for our community. Your vote counts! 

Angel Borden

Residents should vote for me because I am not one of the “good old boys.” I am independent, standing up for residents and workers. We must continue to protect our environment, land, sea, simplify codes and rules, stop tax hikes and being cost effective, not costly. I am not afraid to make decisions! 

10 years attending council meetings asking for fairness, transparency, speaking out on inequality. We must act now on the 2023 buildout and affordable housing. Action must be taken on these issues. A common sense strategic plan is vital for the survival of our community and businesses. Ignoring known problems is wrong. Our future is here, we must take action now to preserve and protect everyone.

Together, we must all work to make Islamorada great again, and that starts with you and me. This is the best place on earth to live. Thank you for your vote. 

Casey Watkins

We need a council focused on the everyday concerns of its residents. I promise to listen and represent all who call Islamorada home. Together we will work as a community to find the right solutions for the unique challenges we face to protect our valuable resources, people and environment. I will help find solutions to local problems on a county, state and federal level. We deserve better leadership, not individuals who repeatedly put their own interests first instead of fighting for Islamorada’s greater good. Choose someone who will diligently serve you as we all strive for a better tomorrow. Someone who will always advocate for the necessary dialogue to protect our irreplaceable environment and community. We cannot afford to lose another two years to self-seeking council members determining our way of life. Each day is critical to keeping our Village safe as we grow together.

Deb Gillis 

I have knowledge to move the Village through our next set of challenges. Sharing

knowledge and using teamwork will achieve informed decisions. I’m dedicated, know how to make difficult decisions, use facts for decisions and will support team decisions. Our environment is our livelihood and must be protected. I will work for clean water, coral restoration, improving storm water run-off and habitat protection, both land and sea.

Housing choices need serious consideration. Small business is the backbone of the country. Employees are needed for their success. Partnerships with others are a necessity to provide needed housing. The Village code is a living document. Code needs to be constantly reviewed and updated. Council decisions must be for the good of all, not just a select few. I will listen to all citizens. Let’s become united and move forward together! Be informed, your vote counts. I’m asking for your vote November 8.


Tom Raffanello

I respect the residents of Islamorada and their desire for competent governance.  They want someone qualified to run their Village, not just a local personality. They deserve someone with complex managerial and budgetary experience; not a group of excuse-makers.Islamorada needs a Councilperson who has real experience in administering a budget of $75 million tax dollars, one who has a history of solving difficult problems, one who has a strategic plan and vision for the coming decades. I am that person. I am the ONLY candidate who has the qualities and experience required to deal with our over-development and fiscal irresponsibility. I will also establish ethical guidelines and fight for what is right, whether that takes me to the Village, County, State or Federal government.I ask the residents to examine the experience and expertise of all candidates. Residents will unite behind competent governance. Let’s make the changes on November 8!Look at my qualifications at

David Webb

I have defined my candidacy as one based upon integrity and independence. But what does that mean? My integrity has been tested in every representative role I have held. I have alwaysprevailed for the simple reason that I only fight for truth and principal, not my own self-interest.My independence is unchallenged. I am retired and I have no business or investment interests in our Village. I believe the future of Islamorada must allow for community friendly business, must demand more aggressive protection of our fragile environment, must include a willingness by all citizens for reasonable compromise and, most importantly, must include a return to civildiscourse and mutual respect. We can always learn from each other especially when we disagree.I now have two hard earned years of local experience. I am ready to go, day one. Integrity andIndependence, you can vote for and count on.

Sharon Mahoney

I have asked myself this question several times over the past several months. I think I am at the time and place in my life where I can really give back, make a difference for all of us that have watched some major changes take place. Times do change but our desire to have the life we all either moved here for or stayed here for I believe is within our reach. I have run my own successful business for 27 years working hard to manage, lead, and work side by side with the people who stayed with me for years. I know how to run large events and raise money for so many great causes here. I can make the tough decisions and do what is right for the residents and help get housing for our everyday workers that keep us going. From the very start my father’s memories have guided me. He worked hard and was committed to this community to build my family a wonderful life. He never backed down from any problem, to do what is right and stand on your own two feet echoes in my thoughts daily. If I am elected I promise to work on our problems and not become part of them.