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Key West attorney and Bahama Village resident Marci L. Rose this week became the third candidate to enter the race for the District 6 seat on the city commission.

Longtime District 6 commissioner Clayton Lopez is term-limited out. 

Rose faces two other candidates — Aaron Castillo and Thaddeus Cohen — in the most crowded city race thus far. 

District 6 includes Bahama Village, the neighborhood around Key West cemetery, much of Duval and Simonton streets from Southard to the Atlantic Ocean and the residential neighborhood around Catherine, Virginia and South streets. 

As city races are nonpartisan, they could be decided during the Aug. 20 primary election. If one candidate for an office receives more than 50% of the vote, that candidate is declared the winner in August. In races with more than two candidates, if no one secures more than 50%, then the top two vote-getters proceed to a run-off election on Nov. 5.

Here is a look at the candidates who have declared:

a woman sitting on a couch smiling for the camera

Marci Rose

Rose has lived in Key West since 1983 and in Bahama Village since 1998, states her candidacy announcement. 

“She is past president of Reef Relief, past board member of Last Stand and recently served on the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee, which advises the city commission about how to spend tax money collected in Bahama Village on projects that benefit that community.

“As Reef Relief president from 1998 to 2004, Rose successfully advocated for major upgrades to the city’s advanced wastewater treatment facility, which ended sewage discharges into local waters,” her announcement states. “As chairman of Clean Florida Keys, she was instrumental in securing federal recognition of U.S. 1 as a National Scenic Highway and helped develop the master plan for the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, the 106-mile-long bicycle path that runs from Key Largo to Key West.

“Rose is the owner of a successful law practice focusing on real estate, estate planning and probate law. As a founding board member of the Bahama Conch Community Land Trust, she was a leader in early efforts to counter gentrification in Bahama Village. She continues to advocate for housing solutions in District 6, most recently as a member of the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee (BVRAC).

“We are at a pivotal stage in the growth of our beautiful city and we have big challenges — from housing, to water quality, to health care,” Rose said. “My track record shows I can work with our state and federal partners to get things done and make positive change in the city.”

a man and a woman holding signs under a tree

Aaron Castillo

Aaron Castillo is a “lifelong Conch, born and raised in Key West,” he said. He is the longtime funeral director and operator of Key West Mortuary, formerly known as Castillo & Thurston Mortuary, on Whitehead Street.

He has served on the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Board, the Citizens Review Board, the Monroe County Housing Authority Board and several others. 

“Bahama Village needs a lot of work, and I’m here to stay,” Castillo said at a February candidates event held by Hometown, a nonpartisan voter education group. “I’m planted and I’ll work to my bones to get things done.”

a man in a suit and tie standing on a boardwalk

Thaddeus Cohen

Thaddeus Cohen is an architect by trade who worked as Key West’s planning director from 2015 to 2017. From 2004 to 2007, he was secretary of Florida’s then-Department of Community Affairs, which regulated development in the state. He has worked in county-level administration, planning and growth management positions throughout Florida. Cohen also was a finalist for the city manager position last year following the retirement of Patti McLauchlin.

At the Hometown event in February, Cohen touted his success in securing Truman Waterfront from the Navy for the city of Key West as well as his role in creating the successful Duval Loop free bus route around Duval Street.

In other city races

  • Former Key West Police Chief Donie Lee is running for commissioner Billy Wardlow’s seat in New Town’s District 3. Wardlow is term-limited out and Lee is running unopposed as of May 22.

Lee is a native Key Wester who served for 25 years with the police department, including 10 years as chief. 

  • In District 1, Monica Haskell and Ben Hennington are running for the Old Town seat currently held by Jimmy Weekley, who also has reached his term limit.

Haskell has held positions in Keys government since the 1990s and co-founded the first charter school in Monroe County. Hennington is a community activist and fundraiser, who is the reigning Fantasy Fest king.

  • As of May 22, former Monroe County tax collector Danise “Dee Dee” Henriquez is unopposed for mayor, as Mayor Teri Johnston decided not to seek a final term. 

For information about candidates and their fundraising contributions, visit keyselections.org.

Mandy Miles
Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.