On Nov. 18, Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Coldiron became the Monroe County mayor and Commissioner David Rice was elected to serve as mayor pro tem. It is Coldiron’s first turn in the center of the dais and she welcomed newcomers Mike Forster and Eddie Martinez.

“Being a public servant is a thankless job,” she told them. “Today you get sworn in, tomorrow you get sworn at,” she said, laughing. 

Forster replaces retiring Commissioner Sylvia Murphy in District 5, and Martinez won his seat from former Mayor Heather Carruthers by a narrow margin in District 3. Forster named David Ritz to the planning board and Martinez named George Neugent to the planning board.

Outgoing Commissioner Heather Carruthers was presented with flowers and a plaque for her service to the Keys.

At Carruthers’ last meeting, staff played a montage of photos of Carruthers’ service to Monroe County, including an appearance in Washington, D.C. to testify before Congress. Carruthers thanked County Attorney Bob Shillinger and County Administrator Roman Gastesi for their service. 

“Roman, your optimism has brought this county through so many challenges,” Carruthers said. She also thanked her aide, Carol Schreck, for her support. 

“The easiest way to be successful is to surround yourself with people who are as smart, or smarter, and work as hard or harder, than you do,” Carruthers said. She told the assembly that she isn’t sure what’s next, but has received a solid message with mementos inscribed with a message: “Stop me before I volunteer again.”

In other news, Norma Kula, the county’s director of libraries, announced her retirement after serving the county for 36 years. Kimberly Matthews will now be the senior director of strategic planning as well as assume a leadership role as director of libraries.  

Monroe County Clerk of the Courts Kevin Madok swears in County Commissioner Eddie Martinez.

At the meeting, Coldiron made a brief announcement that County Commissioner Craig Cates and his wife, Cheryl, have been hospitalized for COVID-19. Commissioners expressed support and hopes for their speedy recovery. Cates was recently elected to the District 1 seat, having assumed the same role in 2019, midway through Dan Kolhage’s term. Kolhage stepped down due to health reasons.   

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