Qualifying ends for most races

FLORIDA KEYS — Last Friday was the last day to qualify for many county elections in November.

While County Commissioner David Rice and state Rep. Holly Raschein were retained after drawing no challengers, for most, the campaign process is just starting.

In Key Largo, last-minute filings were made for two seats on the Key Largo Fire-EMS District board. Board member Jennifer Miller is not seeking re-election. Her seat will be contested between Kay Cullen and Tony Ross Jr., who filed last week. Board member George Mirabella will face off against Frank Conklin, who filed last week.

Both Conklin and Ross declined to speak about their campaigns when contacted by the Free Press last week, saying they were preparing their platforms.

Among followers of the fire district, it is no secret that Mirabella and Conklin are not the best of friends. Mirabella was the deciding vote in the spring of 2013 that severed ties between the district and the former volunteer fire department and led to the creation of a new department with different leadership.

Conklin, who was the president of the former department, has since contended the island’s fire service has taken a dive.

The independent district, which has a five-member elected board, taxes residents and uses those monies to contract for fire and ambulance services. Residents of Tavernier receive their fire and ambulance service from the county.

One challenger has emerged for the three at-large seats on the Key Largo Wastewater Board. Incumbents Andy Tobin, Norm Higgins and David Asdourian are being challenged by Jose Peixoto, who previously made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congress.

Two seats are open on the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, with District 2 incumbent Phil Goodman being challenged by Roger Cousineau and Lynda Schuh. Tom McDonald, Geoff Baily and Eddie Martinez are running for the District 5 seat, which was previously held by attorney Jack Bridges, who is now running for a circuit judge seat held by Tegan Slaton. Attorney Bonnie Helms is also vying for Slaton’s bench seat.

Incumbent Circuit Judge Mark Jones is being challenged by attorney Donald Barrett.

Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent will face off against Eleanor McAdams and Danny Coll for his District 2 seat. Residents countywide can vote in the race.

For the Monroe County School Board, Stu Kessler, Warren Leamard and Robert Highsmith are running for the District 1 seat being vacated by Robin Smith-Martin. District 5 representative Ron Martin is being challenged by Dennis Caltigirone and Richard Bradley.

Those interested in running for elective officer in the municipalities of Marathon, Layton or Islamorada still have time to qualify.

In Marathon, Eric Myrmel, William “Bill” F. Kelly, Jeannette Pelletier and R. Daniel Zieg so far have filed for one of three at-large seats on the council. The mayor, Dick Ramsay, will be termed out, while councilmen Chris Bull and John Bartus are eligible to seek re-election but have not yet filed for office. The deadline to file is noon Aug. 12.

Clark Snow is currently running unopposed for Layton City Council Seat 2, while Clarlyn Scott is unopposed for Council Seat 4 and Norman Anderson has no challenger for the mayor’s seat. The deadline for Layton candidates to qualify in noon Aug. 15.

Islamorada’s Village Council has five seats open this fall. Incumbents Deb Gillis, Mike Forster and Ken Philipson to date have no challengers. Former councilman Bob Johnson and former Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward, though, are challenging incumbent Dave Purdo for his seat. Incumbent Ted Blackburn announced last week that he does not plan to seek re-election, which leaves his seat uncontested for now. The deadline to qualify for the council is noon Aug. 19


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