Councilman Henry Rosenthal. CONTRIBUTED

An effort to recall one Islamorada councilman on claims of malfeasance isn’t moving forward. The chairman of a committee that led the effort states it’s due to the price tag of an election to select his replacement, if the recall effort succeeded. 

In late August, a petition began to circulate in Islamorada to remove Henry Rosenthal, village councilman who landed a seat on the dais in 2020 after his opponent, Ken Davis, passed away. Rosenthal ran for reelection in 2022, beating four other candidates for the seat. He won by a margin of five votes over Deb Gillis, a former councilwoman.

The recall effort was led by the political action committee Islamorada Forever, which registered with the village on Aug 16. The chairman, Casey Watkins, who ran against Rosenthal during the 2022 election, told the Keys Weekly via email that the committee realized they’d be asking the village to spend more than $20,000 on an election to select a replacement for a short time with the seat and four others up for grabs in November 2024. 

“We decided that it was not fiscally responsible on our part to ask this of our village and, most importantly, its residents,” Watkins said. “We know that our elected officials have noticed we pay attention and will hold them accountable to purposefully execute the jobs they were elected to perform.”

The petition claims that Rosenthal interfered with the lawful performance of the planning director Jennifer DeBoisbriand’s duties. It states the councilman instructed DeBoisbriand to unlawfully serve as liaison to other council members to ask them in advance of a meeting how each one would vote on an amendment Rosenthal needed for a project in which he was involved. The councilman was attempting to buy the former Island Community Church building with plans to develop a theater-like venue at the time. Rosenthal was working with Dan Gulizio, former development services director, before he was let go by former village manager Ted Yates. 

The petition stated his actions violated Section 5(12) of the village charter (malfeasance), as well as Florida’s Government in Sunshine laws, Florida’s code of ethics for public officers and employees for misuse of public position and article 2 of Florida’s constitution related to breach of public trust and abuse of public position. The petition needed 532 signatures, which is 10% of Islamorada’s roughly 5,320 registered voters, 30 days after the first signature was obtained. 

Rosenthal responded to the recall’s conclusion with the same comment he shared in an Aug. 31 Keys Weekly article.  

“One never knows what motivates people to do what they do. And ultimately the truth will prevail,” he said.

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.