In an effort to provide greater familiarity and communication between the nine Marathon City Council candidates and our readers, the Marathon Weekly sent each prospective council member a series of questions concerning their backgrounds and stances on pressing city issues. The Marathon Weekly will continue to print each candidate’s responses in a Q&A series leading up to the election, where four of the nine candidates will win seats on the city council. Per the referendum passed in August’s primary election, the candidate with the fewest votes who still wins a seat will serve a shorter two-year term, set to expire at the same time as councilman Luis Gonzalez’s. The other three winners will serve three-year terms. Be on the lookout for a candidate forum co-sponsored by the Keys Weekly and Marathon Chamber of Commerce, set for Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. Readers who have questions they would like to see answered by Marathon City Council, U.S. House or Florida House candidates may submit them to [email protected] for potential inclusion.
Answers are printed exactly as submitted by candidates, with responses limited to 100 words.
This week: What do you envision Marathon’s demographics will be in five years? 10 years? 20 years?
My vision for Marathon focuses on preservation of our vibrant and diverse community. I envision continued investments in our community to promote Marathon as a wonderful place to raise a family. The “V” shaped population trends over the past 20 years should be a concern of everyone who treasures our community. The families who moved were replaced with a younger and wealthier demographic. This trend is concerning. We need to balance preservation of Marathon’s close-knit community families with those who invest and withdraw significant capital from our economy without a personal stake in the residents’ quality of life.
Over the last 20 years, Marathon has experienced moderate growth. Going forward, I believe we will continue this moderate growth in population. Demographics can also be affected by changes made to hurricane evacuation standards. If codes changes are allowed at the local level, affordable housing building rights could be better protected and would bring an increase in full-time residents. Public/Private partnerships between businesses and the College of the Florida Keys and the Marathon Fire Department will encourage younger residents to become licensed in a trade while also living and working in the Keys.
Marathon has lost much of its small-town appeal since 2010, which many residents dislike. The middle class, for decades the backbone of this community, is shrinking. However, that shift is similar to what’s occurring across Florida.
Achieving class balance in a highly desirable vacation and investment area will be challenging. Local home ownership will shrink in the next decade, while home values and rents should continue to increase. The poverty rate is approaching 10% and while that will likely decrease in the next decade, it’s not because the quality of life is improving for all.
It is extremely obvious that if we continue on the path we are on now, we will be in big trouble in 5 years time! With the right people in office and God on our side we can change the direction we are headed in. Paying closer attention to our workforce and putting less money into vacation destination and tourist boards, and advertising. That cost could be put towards homes that are attainable for blue collar and working force locals to own a home and not just rent. No one knows the future so seeing that far ahead isn’t possible.
Marathon’s demographics has changed over the past few years. With property values rising and shortage of affordable housing, families have left or sold their property because of rising costs. My goal is to try and keep the family environment in Marathon for years to come.
If the City remains on its current path local residency will “Shrink”! The outrageous growth has put our locals in a terrible situation. Today we have limited housing stock and many locals have been forced to rent and at the same time annual rents have almost doubled. Therefore, to stop Marathon from becoming the “Weekly Rental Vacation Capital of the World” the City must create a plan that encourages workforce and affordable housings, business ownership and local employment so Marathon does not become a city that models larger resort cities!
This answer depends almost entirely on the actions we take as a city, starting now, through the next 5 years. We are currently losing many talented, productive, and well-established residents of Marathon because they can no longer afford to live here. If left unchecked, this trend will have disastrous long-term effects on our economy, environment, and our future. Our current trajectory will leave few opportunities for families or individuals in the workforce to survive here, in turn, crippling small businesses and the larger economic infrastructure of Marathon. We can and we must intervene to change the course we are on.
If we continue the path we are on, Marathon will be mostly vacation rentals, second and third homes with very few locals. We need a council that fights for locals instead of out-of-town developers. We need to make our way back to a strong family-oriented town. We need employee housing. Council needs to work with local businesses to help them find employee housing instead of working with big developers who do not contribute to the local economy long term. We also need to audit who is renting the “affordable homes”.
If steps are not taken immediately, Marathon will rapidly become a city of extremely wealthy land owners/investment firms and nothing else. All small business, families and sense of community will cease to exist. All goods and services will be provided, to the privileged, from the mainland. In addition, our already limited health care services will be all but eliminated. It is impossible to have nurses and health care professionals working our hospital if they cannot afford to live here. This also includes, school teachers, firefighters and law enforcement personal.