ISLAMORADA COUNCIL REVERSES COURSE ON REFERENDUM FOR STAGGERED 4-YEAR TERMS

a man in a suit and tie standing next to a man in a blue shirt
New Village Manager Rob Cole speaks to Mayor Buddy Pinder before the April 9 meeting at Founders Park Community Center. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

Islamorada council turned down a pair of ordinances related to a referendum for staggered four-year terms and upping the village manager’s purchasing authority from $25,000 to $50,000. 

At its April 9 meeting, the council voted 3-2 to maintain the manager’s ability to execute contracts for services, materials and equipment up to $25,000 without needing council approval. An ordinance to increase the purchasing authority to $50,000 was previously approved on first reading via 3-2 vote at a March 12 meeting. 

Council members supporting the measure noted the need to account for inflation. 2008 was the last time an adjustment was made to the manager’s purchasing policy. New Village Manager Rob Cole said at the April 9 meeting that inflation alone merits an increase in the manager’s purchasing authority. 

“With a professional manager in place, I believe in strong fiscal stewardship and accountability. I don’t think someone in my position would abuse that authority but use it when necessary when it’s in the best interest of the organization and community,” Cole said. 

The ordinance came back for a second reading and subsequently voted down by Mayor Buddy Pinder, who voted in favor of the item during the March meeting, and by Vice Mayor Sharon Mahoney and Henry Rosenthal. Elizabeth Jolin and Mark Gregg voted in favor of the measure. 

An ordinance to ask voters at the November election whether they support four-year staggered terms was also turned down by the council via 3-2 vote. Rosenthal and Mahoney said “no,” as well as Pinder, who voted in favor of the measure during last month’s meeting. The ordinance was approved on first reading via 3-2 vote at a March 12 meeting. 

Resident Van Cadenhead told council members that the measure was quashed twice overwhelmingly in the village. During the 2018 general election, village voters were asked whether they supported four-year terms. The measure was voted down with 57% saying “no.”

Before voting no, Rosenthal said the public has the opportunity to get rid of a council member legally every two years. 

“If you’ve done the job right, they’ll vote for you every two years. If you haven’t, you’re history,” Rosenthal said.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.