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 city department are you most interested in working closely with, and why?
Building and code enforcement. I have had many conversations with Marathon residents who have expressed their extreme dissatisfaction with this department.
I am most interested in working with the City Attorney. The most pressing problems facing the City will require sage legal counsel. The city has significant exposure associated with current litigation. Prudent risk and fiscal management in the responsibility of the council for which a strong working relationship with our City Attorney is of paramount importance. Decision and issues related to litigation, HR, grants, BPAS, code, planning and vacation rentals will all require good legal guidance to avoid missteps. When evaluating policy directives to staff, legal concerns and compliance should be at the forefront of our decision-making process.
While all departments are crucial to our city, I most look forward to working with Code Enforcement because they have the duty of enforcing our codes and ordinances. Violations of our codes and ordinances impact the quality of life, safety, and health of residents and visitors. Enforcement of codes and ordinances is vital to make sure the city of Marathon is properly maintained, and our residents have a safe place to live, work and raise their families.
Based on numerous interviews I’ve conducted with builders, contractors and even City staff the past five months, it’s clear that the Planning Department is the one that requires immediate oversight and reshaping. This department is the one that appears to be slowing the permitting process the most and negatively impacting builders and homeowners.
A homeowner shouldn’t have to wait months and even years for an approved permit, which is often held up in Planning. My expertise in workflow and organizational management, customer service standards and identifying solutions to problems will help the Council and the City navigate through this problem.
Present day is building and planning departments. As a council member, I wouldn’t pick and choose. I will follow the issues as they present themselves. A council member needs to be a multi-tasker and take on issues in whatever department the problems may be in. They must also be continually asking questions and have good communication skills.
If elected, I am looking forward to working with the city Manager. It is my goal to help make the city run smoother, more efficiently, and more user friendly. It is councils’ job to set policy and work with the city manager and city attorney to accomplish this goal.
I will focus on locals! Therefore enforcement and fiscal responsibility are my focus! Today, the city offers our residents the “Illusion of Enforcement” instead of actually “Enforcing the Rules.” Marathon has written rules with associated fines that in large part are never levied! This must change. If elected, I will urge council to authorize the hiring of an Enforcement Manager whose purpose will be to actually enforce the rules and regulations of the city and when they are broken, issue and collect the appropriate fines that add revenues without taxing our locals! Such fines only impact those who break the rules.
Like everything else, our city departments do not work completely independently. No single department is equipped to solve our complex problems on its own. The best way to accomplish our goals is through collaboration, education, hard work, and yes, some compromise as well. Finance, building, planning, code compliance, and public works would all need to work closely together to address the affordable housing crisis. We also need to work with state and federal agencies as well as private sector and not-for-profit organizations to deal with this multifaceted issue. Our challenges are complex, and the solutions will be even more so.
The biggest complaint I hear about is the planning department. Based on numerous complaints (no response to emails, no response to calls, too long to approve permits) from many contractors, citizens and my firsthand experience. I would first focus on addressing these complaints and working against questionable activities and preferential treatments. We need all departments to be transparent and accountable to the taxpayers. Which department requires more focus from the council will constantly change.