Two races for village dais contested

Five seats on the dais are up for grabs in Islamorada, with four of those spots set to see new decision-makers. 

Current councilwoman Deb Gillis is terming out while Chris Sante, who’s filling out the rest of Cheryl Meads’ term, isn’t seeking two more years in office. Mayor Mike Forster is running for county commission while Jim Mooney seeks a state House seat. Vice Mayor Ken Davis is running for re-election uncontested. 

Two of the races will see contests among four village residents with expansive and diverse backgrounds. The Weekly recently asked the candidates in the races for seat 1 and seat 5 the following questions. Here’s what they had to say. (Answers are presented as submitted.)

QUESTIONS:

  1. Years in the Keys?
  2. What do you do for a living?
  3. What propelled you to run for village office?
  4. What can you bring to the dais?
  5. What’s the biggest issue facing the village and how would you fix it?
  6. What makes Islamorada unique, and what are some things you’d do to preserve the community and its character?

SEAT 1

Frank Lavin

  1. 4-plus years. 
  2. I am an interior designer and real estate agent.
  3. Attending village council meetings for almost two years and listening to what issues are important to the different members of our community who live on four very different islands, I thought on how I could bridge the gaps and lend my expertise. I will address voter concerns on fiscal responsibility and keep voters informed. The beautification of our islands, especially what you see from the highway, will be a major concern. You can visit my website VOTELAVIN.COM and see why I am running.
  4. I will listen to the issues which are presented to the council. I will study the issues and proposals prepared by our village administration, as well as communications brought by council members, and concerns presented by our community. Never dismiss a topic of concern, an idea, a suggestion, anything that may impact one citizen of Islamorada.
  5. One of the main issues we are facing is the constant traffic, the speed of cars, and not being able to egress in and out of neighborhoods during the day, and especially on weekends. Key locations where a traffic light, a stop sign, or pedestrian crosswalk is needed, must be addressed with FDOT.
  6. The unique character of Islamorada lies in the five islands which make our village. Every island is an entity which is very different from the others. I would like to unite all of the islands, by bridging the gap which occurs by each islands’ insulation and isolation. The protection of private property, and the quality of life will be addressed. Helping all, no matter which portion of the village we live on.

Pete Bacheler

  1. 35 years.
  2. I’m a private land-use planner and commercial photographer.
  3. After 6-and-a-half years as chairman of the Village Land Use agency (LPA), the next step is council.
  4. I can bring 35 years experience in permitting in the Keys and Islamorada provides an extensive background in Keys development and history.
  5. The biggest issue is 2023 and the termination of residential permits and the changes it may bring.
  6. Our environment and weather make our community very unique and fluid. We should continue the current direction of our council as they are preserving our community and character.

SEAT 5

Larry Zettwoch 

  1. I bought a home in 1988 and have been here the whole time. I worked in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was out of town quite a bit. I’ve been voting down here since 1989. 
  2. I was in the military for 32 years as an active duty guard reserve. I flew commercial for airlines for 34 years. 
  3. I’m interested in Islamorada council seat 5 because I wish to conserve and preserve the uniqueness of the village and its water. I tell people I want to keep Islamorada Islamorada. 
  4. I’ve been serving in Islamorada for years. I’ve been on the board at the library, so I talk to a different group of people over there. I’ve been a board member of the Moose for six-plus years. I talk to a different group over there. I’m a volunteer fireman and I teach every month for them. I come across a lot of people, and I hear their concerns. 
  5. We got two issues in my opinion. The one in your face is traffic, the other is surrounding waters and the reefs. The reefs need protecting. The bay needs more water. I’ve been a boater since ‘88, so I’m on both sides and I taught scuba at Plantation Yacht Harbor. The bay is what concerns me right now and salinity of water, we got to help it. It’s our livelihood and we’ve got to bring it to the forefront. Council has to be vocal about this. 
  6. It’s a water community, whether backcountry, scuba or deep water fishing. It’s all about water. That’s why I moved here. I used to be in the water every day. It’s a wonderful boating committee, it’s a great scuba community. That’s what I love about it. At the same time, we have rules, and I love that. I also love that the village is trying to take over FIlls, that’s a unique place. 

David Webb

1. Seven as a full time resident. I’m a native Floridian from Miami.

2. I’m retired from FedEx where I was an domestic and international pilot for over 30 years. Prior to that I was a fighter pilot in the USAF and SCANG.

3. First and foremost, it is my strong belief that it is an obligation of citizenship to contribute to the community in which one lives. Having had the opportunity to interface with the Village Council and staff over the last several years as a member and president of the Port Antigua Property Owners Association Inc., (PAPOA) I feel I could, if elected, help smooth the transition as at least 80% of the 2021 Council will be new faces. 

4. As the leader of the association representing the over 4,000 FedEx pilots for nearly 10 years and president of the PAPOA representing over 300 property owners on Lower Mat for two years, I have refined my ability to bring diverse groups of people with sometimes conflicting objectives together through honest, open and respectful interaction.

5. Identifying the biggest issue facing the village depends on who you’re asking. If you are a charter captain, it might be the deteriorating water quality in Florida Bay and the near shores of Islamorada. If you are  a young working family trying to get established in our beautiful community, it’s probably the shortage of affordable housing. If you ask a current council member,  they might say strengthening our community’s ability to address these and every challenge we face by resisting the state of Florida’s attempts to weaken or eliminate home rule. My approach to resolving problems is a threefold process. First, reach agreement with all stakeholders to define the problem. Second, utilize all resources available to assess all options for addressing the problem. Finally, work to achieve consensus on the most viable solution and implement.

6. Being the “Village of Islands”. Four gems with the Everglades National Park and Florida Bay to the north and the cobalt blue Gulfstream and Atlantic Ocean to the south. One of the biggest challenges to keeping our unique home one of the most desirable communities in the Keys is finding a way to have visitors and residents alike be responsible stewards of our fragile environment while enjoying its abundance.

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