With five and a half months to go until Election Day, two more Marathon residents have put their names on the ballot for Marathon City Council.
There are two nonpartisan council seats up for grabs this November with the top two vote-getters winning.
The two latest candidates are Luis Gonzalez and Sarah Bruno.
Incumbent Mark Senmartin, running for a third term, announced his candidacy last month along with George Neugent, who is serving his last of five four-year terms representing District 2 on the Board of County Commissioners.
Gonzalez has lived in Marathon for nearly three decades and raised his three children here with wife Jackie. Born and raised in Key West, he is co-owner of Gonzalez Brothers Landscaping, which currently has a contract with the City of Marathon, at $408,050 per year for three years with possible extensions.
“I’ve spoken to a lawyer, of course. I have the right to run for office but would have to recuse myself from votes concerning my business,” he said.
Gonzalez said it’s the hometown feel and tight-knit community that make him love Marathon so much.
His two main priorities serving on City Council would be continued hurricane recovery and affordable housing.
“The direction is positive with the current council, but I feel there are some disconnects. With my team-building skills I could help bridge the gap and at the end of the day, I want every citizen to be the priority,” he said.
Gonzalez has been involved in youth sports for the entirety of his time living in Marathon.
“I look forward to the challenge of being on City Council because I feel that my reputation and my commitment to this community since 1989 shows,” he said. More than a decade ago, Gonzalez ran for a school board seat but was defeated by sitting member John Dick.
Bruno has lived in the Keys since 1985 and graduated from Marathon High School in 2000. She lives on Grassy Key and has worked at Fishermen’s Hospital for the past 15 years as a patient financial representative. Her main focus if elected, she said, would be affordable housing.
“I know we need affordable housing and I don’t think anybody is doing anything actively to solve the problem,” she said. “We are supposed to get those 1,300 new affordable allocations, and most likely 300 of those would come to Marathon. If we don’t use those responsibly … well, it’s our last chance to do something about our affordable housing crisis.”
Although this is the first time she’s run for office, she said she feels a strongly about helping other residents.
“I have a strong connection with the working class people. I know where they live; I know their financial situation,” she said.
She also wants to concentrate on cost savings at the city level and on hurricane preparation. On cost saving, she said, “We need to examine all the contracts that we have within the city for services and make sure were getting back the best services for the money that we are spending.”