Marathon Mayor Michelle Coldiron is New Monroe County Commissioner - A man and a woman standing in a room - Hurricane Irma
Newly elected Monroe County Commissioner Michelle Coldiron, left, congratulates newly elected Key West Mayor Teri Johnston. BRITT MYERS/Keys Weekly

Hurricane Irma changed the landscape of Monroe County’s District 2 — in physical ways and political themes. Much of the district’s residents in unincorporated Monroe County, hardest hit by the storm, felt disenfranchised by what was perceived as the county’s inaction. It was the overriding theme in the contest between Marathon’s Michelle Coldiron (R) and Tommy Ryan (D).

Coldiron, a three-year veteran of the Marathon City Council, garnered 53 percent of the vote. Ryan, a political newcomer with a home on Big Pine Key, won 46 percent. Coldiron carried all but nine of the precincts — including the two on Big Pine Key — while Ryan’s support ended at Big Coppitt. 

“I could not have done this without all of my supporters,” Coldiron said, adding that her first order of business is two-pronged.

“First, I want to reach out to the individuals and form a committee on District 2 to bring some cohesiveness. Then I plan to meet regularly with the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce so I have the pulse of the business district, and what we can do to improve the look of District 2.”

On Nov. 7, Ryan re-affirmed his intention to stay involved.

“They woke a sleeping giant,” Ryan said. “You’ll be seeing me again.”

Coldiron will fill the seat vacated by George Neugent who termed out after 20 years on the Monroe County Commission. Neugent ran for a Marathon City Council seat but was unsuccessful. (See story, page XX.)


Monroe County Commissioner David Rice, the incumbent, was re-elected for a fourth term to his District 4 seat. He defeated political newcomer Vicki Tashjian. On Nov. 7, the day after the election, Rice was busy picking up campaign signs before he heads out of town on vacation. 

Rice ended election night with 20,444 votes to Tashjian’s 13,391 — or 60 percent to 40 percent. 

“I appreciate the support of the community and promise to keep on doing the same kind of work I’ve been doing in the past,” Rice said, adding his main objectives haven’t changed: “Affordable housing and improvements to the traffic situation.”

Tashjian congratulated Rice on his win. “And I enjoyed the whole campaign process,” she said, adding that she doesn’t know if she will run again. “Never say never. For now, I’m going to put my energies back into running my business.”

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