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Key West Mayor Teri Johnston is sharply criticized in City Attorney Shawn Smith’s resignation letter. CONTRIBUTED

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston has decided to not seek re-election, after serving a total of 14 years as a city commissioner and then mayor, her spokeswoman said Friday.

“Throughout my tenure, we have worked tirelessly to make our city vibrant, sustainable and welcoming—one where progress moves forward, not back,” Johnston said in a statement. “However, like all leaders realize, there comes a time to allow new leadership to take the helm. This is my time.”

Johnston’s announcement creates a wide open race for the mayor’s office.

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Former Monroe County tax collector Danise “Dee Dee” Henriquez, announced her candidacy last year and already has raised more than $11,000.

City Commissioner Sam Kaufman has been considering running for mayor but told Keys Weekly he wouldn’t go up against Johnston, calling her a “shoo-in” for another term.

“I support Mayor Johnston 1,000% and would never run against her,” Kaufman said on Jan. 9. 

“While I may be moving onto the next chapter, my commitment to our city, our people, and our new city manager remains steadfast,” Johnston said. “I look forward to supporting our next generation of leaders who will continue making Key West one of the best places to live, grow, and visit.”

This is a developing story.

Gwen Filosa
Gwen Filosa is The Keys Weekly’s Digital Editor, and has covered Key West news, culture and assorted oddities since she moved to the island in 2011. She was previously a reporter for the Miami Herald and WLRN public radio. Before moving to the Keys, Gwen was in New Orleans for a decade, covering criminal courts for The Times-Picayune. In 2006, the paper’s staff won the Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news and the Public Service Medal for their coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. She remains a devout Saints fan. She has a side hustle as a standup comedian, and has been a regular at Comedy Key West since 2017. She is also an acclaimed dogsitter, professional Bingo caller and a dedicated Wilco fan.