It took Gov. Rick Scott’s signature, but a law passed in 2017 gives voters living outside Key West representation on the Utility Board of Key West. It governs Keys Energy Services (KEYS), which serves 28,000 customers from Key West to the east end of Seven Mile Bridge. Robert Barrios, Greg Daniels, Walter P. Drabinksi and Beth Ramsay-Vickrey are voting for the newly created Seat D.
KEY WEST UTILITY BOARD, SEAT A
$20,683 + medical benefits + optional retirement after eight years served
1. What experience and ideas do you bring to this position?
2. What singular budget item will you place the most focus on and why?
3. Would you be in favor of broadcasting or adding additional transparency to board meetings? (i.e., live video, recorded video and audio)?
4. What environmental or green initiatives at Keys Energy, if any, do you feel can be added or improved upon.
Editor’s note: Candidates’ answers appear as submitted.
Jim Marquardt, nonpartisan
Jim Marquardt, general manager of The Gardens Hotel, has lived in Key West since 1999 and is a former television news and commercial producer. He has a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications management. He and his husband, Norman Laurendeau, have been together 16 years.
• Top three issues: Green renewable energy, cost of the Utility Board, storm hardening
• Campaign website: Vote best for Key West on Facebook
1. Lead by example. The Gardens Hotel is twin palm certified green lodging from the State of Florida – first to be certified in Key West. Solar is affordable if we start with our own homes and pools to the top where we purchase our power.
2. Cost of the Utility Board; match that of City Commissioners
4. Sourcing solar, wind and water to start with. Keys Energy is well respected in our country. Opportunity to lead is shown as an example Hawaii, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Mona Clark*, nonpartisan
Mona Clark is a retired teacher and administrator who invested 35 years in the Monroe County School District. She was born and raised in Key West, attended Florida A&M University and has a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of South Florida.
• Top three issues: Hardening of infrastructure, reliability, and maintaining a qualified workforce.
• Campaign website: Mona Clark on Facebook
1. For over forty years I have served our community, on a number of non-profit boards. I served on the Wesley House Board of Directors, as a member and also as Secretary. I served on the Florida Keys Community College Board of Trustee as a member, Board Vice Chair and Board Chair. Also, I am proud having served on many other boards and committees. I started on the Utility Board in 2004, thus gaining a wealth of information concerning KEYS, the industry almost 14 years, thus experience. I have an idea for an outreach program for customers and employees — enhanced conservation and recycling.
2. I realize there are many areas that are vital to KEY’s operation and it would be somewhat difficult to focus on a singular item. For example, O&M budgets that support employee training and certifications are critical because having an effective workforce is essential; however, capital projects that improve our infrastructure are also critical to ensure power flows from the mainland to our community and out to individual homes and businesses. But, if I needed to select one budget item, it would be the Power Supply Budget with FMPA because it is the single largest expense for the Utility …
3. An audio of our Utility Board meetings are available within 48 hours of each meeting. Having the audio available for everyone to hear provides important transparency without KEYS having the additional administrative expenses associated with televised meetings. Recently the board explored and considered televising our meetings and concluded it would be an unnecessary expense. I believe since meeting dates and times are published in advance and the meetings are open to the public, and public input is encouraged, with that and the audio being made available we are being transparent.
4. When it comes to the environment we must all continue to have great concern. Keys Energy, when considering the environment, can never do enough. Over the next four years, I believe KEYS will increase the amount of solar that is in its portfolio, offering solar subscriptions to customers, considering the possibility of EV charging stations, and energy storage, and increasing its conservation education programs for customers. As we look to the future, we must always look at exploring ways of improving environmental and green initiatives.