Fourteen candidates running for local, state and federal offices gathered on Oct. 13 for the 10th Keys Weekly Newspaper and Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce election forum. The forum is available on demand, and will be re-broadcast again on Friday, Oct. 16 and Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. View it on MCTV (Monroe County TV). The candidates had much to say on an array of issues:

“I don’t think Congress did much outside passing the CARES Act. What was done for coronavirus was done at the state and local level.” Republican candidate for Congress Carlos Gimenez, on Congress’ handling of coronavirus 

“We are going to take every measure possible to protect people’s care. We will do whatever it takes if we need to enact it into law, then that’s a step that we’re going to need to take.” U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Democratic incumbent, on the Affordable Care Act repeal lawsuit

“As a former grocery store owner, I can tell you one of two things will happen. Either your eggs are going to be $7 a dozen, or you’re going to end up having half as many employees and end up with unemployment.” Republican candidate for state representative Jim Mooney, on a proposed $15 minimum wage

“If we looked at what Trump was doing at his rally at Sanford, there was no social distancing, no masks. Gov. DeSantis runs down the aisle high-fiving everybody and wipes his nose. Apparently he’s not paying attention to the science either.” Clint Barras, Democratic candidate for state representative, on the governor’s phase 3 reopening

“I think every option should be on table, including requiring them to build cooling towers. That’s just a function of cost and money. It’s surely a wise investment to save our water. I’ve been engaged and will continue to be engaged.” Javier Fernandez, Democratic candidate for state senate, on concerns surrounding the relicensing of Turkey Point Nuclear Plant

“I learned I picked the wrong person for chief assistant. He took a job here in 2001 and quit. He took a job in 2006; quit.” State Attorney Dennis Ward, the incumbent Republican running for re-election, on what he has learned about his opponent, Donald Barrett, who formerly worked as Ward’s chief assistant

“I quickly realized he was in over his head as state attorney. Anytime anyone outside the office wanted to speak with him about an issue, Mr. Ward didn’t have the answers. And the way he interacted with the public was often inappropriate.” Donald Barrett, Democratic challenger for State Attorney, on what he learned about Dennis Ward

“I think that $90,000 for two homes is just unacceptable being that Hurricane Irma was three years ago.” Ana Maria Rodriguez, Republican candidate for state senate, on getting $50 million in Rebuild Florida funds to the Keys

“I’m against increasing the size of the airport 100%. How many more employees would we need? How many more cars on the road? We don’t need more tourists or big business here.” County Commission District 5 candidate Jose Peixoto on the Marathon/Florida Keys Airport

“I think it is underutilized and if we could get another 40 to 400 feet of runway space, whatever we can get, to get another carrier to come in there, it would reduce vehicle traffic greatly.” County Commission District 5 candidate Mike Forster, on ways to enhance use of the Marathon/Florida Keys Airport

“We at the county will respect whatever the Key West voters decide. It won’t have as much financial impact for the county, but whatever Key West decides, we’ll deal with it.” Republican incumbent County Commissioner Craig Cates, running to keep the District 1 seat, on whether and how much Key West’s cruise ship debate affects Monroe County

“There are a lot of employees who work in Key West and live up the Keys. … Definitely smaller ships make a huge difference and it would have a positive impact for Key West.” Democrat District 1 County Commission challenger Annalise Mannix on the impact of Key West’s cruise ship debate on the county

“We’ve already rewritten much of that ordinance. Monroe County’s emergency pay plan was among the most generous, but we have since rewritten that. We need more oversight on who gets the emergency pay and under what circumstances.” Incumbent Democrat District 3 County Commissioner Heather Carruthers on what part of the county’s emergency pay plan, which enabled employees to accrue $1.5 million in overtime pay the first month of the pandemic, she would rewrite

District 3 seat, Eddie Martinez, did not attend the forum.

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