Monroe County Tax Collector makes bid for commission seat - A group of people posing for the camera - Florida Keys
Danise “Dee Dee” Henriquez right, will run for a seat on the Monroe County Board of Commissioners. CONTRIBUTED

Danise “Dee Dee” Henriquez announced her bid for the District 1 seat on the Monroe County Board of Commissioners on June 25, making the race one to watch. The seat is currently held by Danny Kolhage, who does not intend to seek re-election. Henriquez will run against former Key West Mayor Craig Cates. The Weekly announced Cates’ intention to run when he filed paperwork in January. No other candidates have filed yet.

Henriquez currently serves the county as tax collector, a position she has been in for 19 years, in a department where she has worked for 30 years.

“I feel that I’ve served them well, and it’s time to continue to serve Monroe County in a different capacity,” said Henriquez. Her track record is a long one: she’s collected over $300 million a year and in 19 years has never had a finding nor a recommendation.

“I have always balanced to the penny. That’s something my staff and I are very proud of,” she said. “Another thing is that if I don’t spend all the money I collect in fees, I return it to the county. I have returned over $79 million dollars in unused fees to taxing authorities and the county.” In her position as tax collector, Henriquez says she has been “passionate about vacation rentals” and conducted careful audits of Air BnBs and other rentals.

Henriquez says, if elected as county commissioner, she will continue to champion the concerns of citizens regarding vacation rentals, and she’ll also focus on maintaining a balanced budget and allocating workforce housing.

Cates and Henriquez are familiar names and faces to the Key West and Lower Keys community (District 1 spans New Town Key West to Key Haven). Cates was named mayor emeritus in November 2018 in a city resolution citing his track record of championing “legal, environmental and social welfare concerns” and working “diligently to improve city infrastructure.”

“I like, respect and want to thank Dee Dee for all of her years of community service,” said Cates, “but we are focused on addressing the county’s budget issues, hurricane preparedness and recovery and quality of life issues our residents are facing. I will offer my experience and ability to bring people together so we can keep the Keys moving forward.” He famously served five terms as mayor, and he and wife Cheryl Cates have had three daughters in Key West, Tammy, Nicole and Crystal.

Henriquez has been married for 37 years to husband Ralph, head baseball coach at Key West High School. Their son, Ralph Jr., was drafted out of high school by the Houston Astros and now coaches for the Atlanta Braves; daughter Ashley is an attorney in Tampa.

The election will take place Nov. 3, 2020. Although candidates must live in the district, the election is Keyswide.

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