Tashjian challenges Rice

County seat will be decided in November general election

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District 4 of the county commission comprises most of Marathon north to a portion of Islamorada. The seat has been filled by Republican Commissioner David Rice since 2010, who has one opponent, nonpartisan Vicki Tashjian of Marathon, in the Nov. 6 General Election.

Vicki Tashjian

A 26-year resident of Marathon, Vicki Tashjian’s campaign slogan is “Common sense solutions.” She’s managing director of Florida Keys Vacations Inc. and completed some college in fashion merchandising and interior design. She has an extensive background in corporate hospitality. She is married to James Tashjian and has one adult son. Her top three issues are housing, hurricane re-entry, and the environment/water quality. This is her first run for office. 

www.VickiTashjian.com

Do you think Monroe County and Keys municipalities should rewrite their respective land development regulations in order to accept the potential 1,300 affordable housing units that could be built in the Keys?

Yes, I do. There certainly are details to work out and ROGO comes into play. With Marathon, Key West and Islamorada wanting 300 each, I would hope the state and the county can come to some type of agreement to offset the ROGO obstruction and rewrite the land development regulations at an urgent pace, as we need more relief now for future home buyers and long term rentals.

On the ballot this year, voters will answer a referendum question about raising taxes to support school safety measures. Recently, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners decided to create a municipal service taxing district to raise funds for costs incurred by Baptist Health South Florida’s Fishermen’s hospital for indigent care. The BOCC moved to create the taxing district without putting the question to voters on a referendum. Would you have supported this decision, or put the question to the voters?

We elect members to the BOCC to be the eyes, ears, and decision makers for us, but also bring very important items out to vote by the people.  At this point in time, no. This is for ONE YEAR. Then it comes up again.  A referendum will lock us in for 10 YEARS! While I want to live in an area where basic hospital abilities and emergency room service for high fevered children, gaff in foot, etc. are available, it is important for how it is to be sustained.

The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners has the authority to direct the Tourism Development Council and the funds it collects via the bed tax. The TDC advertises the Keys, supports cultural events, and funds the construction of brick-and-mortar projects. Please rank these three endeavors in order of importance.

The direction for the tourism marketing effort is to be in a manner that will assure long-term sustained growth in tourism revenues while also guaranteeing the sustainability and improvement of our product, man-made and natural, and improvements to the quality of life of our residents. The balance between advertising, cultural events and projects is delicate. One does not survive without the other.

 

David Rice
*Incumbent

Monroe County Mayor David Rice has been living in the Keys for 45 years and has served three four-year terms for on the County Commission. He’s been mayor for one year. Rice founded the Guidance Clinic of the Middle Keys, serving as its executive director for more than 30 years before his retirement in 2006. Following retirement, he continued his private consulting practice through 2013. He is married to Mary Rice and they have two children, Lisa and Michael. His top three issues are affordable housing, protecting the environment, and resolving excessive traffic issues. 

Do you think Monroe County and Keys municipalities should rewrite their respective land development regulations in order to accept the potential 1,300 affordable housing units that could be built in the Keys?

The 1,300 affordable permits being offered cannot only provide very needed affordable housing, but they can also reduce our potential takings liability in the range of $130 million to $250 million thus protecting the taxpayer. It would also potentially encourage the State to share responsibility for payment of takings cases, which have a total estimated liability in the range of $500 million. Given the information available today, I am leaning toward approval.

On the ballot this year, voters will answer a referendum question about raising taxes to support school safety measures. Recently, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners decided to create a municipal service taxing district to raise funds for costs incurred by Baptist Health South Florida’s Fishermen’s hospital for indigent care. The BOCC moved to create the taxing district without putting the question to voters on a referendum. Would you have supported this decision, or put the question to the voters?

I did support the municipal taxing district without a referendum based on two factors: I believe that the Community needs the hospital to be built as quickly as possible. And, the overwhelming level of public support as evidenced by resolutions of support from the Marathon City Council, the Key Colony Beach City Council, Marathon Chamber of Commerce, Marathon Rotary and Zonta made the outcome of a referendum entirely predictable and therefore unnecessary considering the delay that would be created by the referendum process.  

The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners has the authority to direct the Tourism Development Council and the funds it collects via the bed tax. The TDC advertises the Keys, supports cultural events, and funds the construction of brick-and-mortar projects. Please rank these three endeavors in order of importance.

It should be noted that without TDC advertising, funds would not be available to support either cultural events or brick-and-mortar projects. Therefore, I would rank them as follows: a. TDC advertising, b. Cultural events, c. Brick-and-mortar projects.

Editor’s note: Candidates’ answers appear as submitted.

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