Bruce Halle lived all over the states as his banking career unfolded — Miami, New York (twice), Phoenix, Maryland (twice) and one four-year stint overseas in Brussels. He started as a clerk at American Express making $91 a week and ended as a managing director of CitiBank before retiring three years ago.
And now, he is the mayor of the Keys’ littlest burg — Layton. Located at MM 68, the tiny town boasts about 155 homes and 160 registered voters. But Halle didn’t have to count the ballots to win — he ran unopposed and will assume the seat held by Norm Peterson for 17 years.
How many shady back-room deals did he have to conduct to be named mayor? “I just had to register to vote,” Halle said, laughing. “There were no backroom deals!”
More seriously, he added, “I figure if you live in a place, you should have a stake in making it a better place.”
Full name? Bruce Halle.
Do you intend to serve 17 years as mayor like your predecessor? I don’t think so; I’m 70 years old. I think a term or two …
What projects are on-going in Layton right now? Well, we’re finishing up the repairs to city hall after Hurricane Irma. (It’s the small building on the highway right next to the fires station.) In the budget for next year is repaving the roads. Layton has an operating budget of about $250,000.
What does the mayor do on a day-to-day basis? Well, there’s lots of meeting and activities that you go to. We have a spot on the fire board for District 1, and we attend various workshops hosted by groups like the Heritage Trail and emergency management.
What’s the structure of Layton’s city government? We have five councilmembers, a mayor, a city clerk and city manager. The council and mayor are unpaid positions. We employ a couple of people for maintenance, but we outsource law enforcement and sewer to other agencies.
Why did you choose Layton for your retirement? We had friends here, but I thought I was going to retire on a golf course somewhere in the Carolinas. But my wife said, “Let me explain this to you. You’re 70, and you have a bad hip, and you’re going to be overlooking the 15th green and you can’t play. But, if you live in Layton, you can still go out on your boat and fish.” That was the pitch. (Halle and his wife, Linda, have been married for 39 years.)
What’s your guilty pleasure? Spending time with my wife. We’ve always worked full time and she works at the Dolphin Research Center. I just like to sit down with my wife, have a drink, and chit chat.
Beer, wine or scotch? Martinis.
You’re stranded on an island, what three things would you want to have? My satellite phone, water, and a supply of food.
For lunch with one famous person, dead or alive, who would you choose and what would you eat? Enzo Ferrari and red wine and pasta, of course.
What’s your best fish story? I was out with Capt. Billy Harbaugh and Frank Riley and we had just pulled two nice-sized cobia up to the side of the boat. All of the sudden, the bottom moved. This huge 700- or 800-pound jewfish came up and swallowed them both. In one bite. It was like a Volkswagen came off the bottom.
When you were little, what were you career ambitions? Mechanical engineering.
You are a recent graduate of the Leadership Monroe class. What’s the big take-away? I really developed interesting relationships with my class members. Not to be trite, but it really broadened by connections within Monroe County. This year, our city clerk Mimi Young has been accepted into the class.
Finish these sentences …
Layton is … a wonderful place to live.
My motto or favorite saying is … It’s better to give ulcers to get them. Or, one of my father’s favorite sayings: Most of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very well. He meant, you have to do what you have to do, no excuses.