Eleanor McAdams is a Democrat who ran against George Neugent for the District 2 seat on the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in the 2014 general election. She spoke up about single-member districts on www.bigpinekey.com. From her entry posted on May 24, 2014:
Hi! It’s me, the poor working class Democrat woman political newcomer who snagged about 45 percent of the overall countywide votes. (with only a $700 budget) I just thought I would add that in. Anyway I was mentioned in the issue of the new movement afoot about single member districts. I do not have anything to do with it but I personally I think after 25 years of living in Dist. 2 that it would be a good idea. I live in a Dist. where our representative does not even understand our life style, he lives in Marathon.
I think George Neugent is the least bad of all the commissioners, but voters in District 2 wanted a change in 2014. They chose Danny Coll in the 2014 Republican primary, but were outvoted by the rest of the Keys. Whatever your opinion of any individual commissioner, it’s a problem when voters in a given district can’t choose their own representative.
McAdams went on to say:
I feel that anyone who runs for County Commission would not be that closed minded to other districts’ needs and concerns. Really, what is the difference if we already have some of that in place?
It’s true that most decent people wouldn’t close their ears to the problems of other districts. But we’re not talking about decent people. We’re talking about the current BOCC. Their track record of reckless spending and negligent unfairness is a matter of public record. As much as I’d like to think that county commissioners care about issues in other districts, I know from personal experience that is absolutely not the case.
District 5 has a huge problem in that their commissioner, Sylvia Murphy, refuses to address serious issues facing her own district. That puts other commissioners, who may be inclined to help, in a very awkward position. How politically feasible is it for them to openly challenge a commissioner on something that negatively affects her own district?
There are other commissioners, of course, who are more than happy to take advantage of the situation no matter how negative the outcome for the people affected. The current at-large system encourages this dysfunctional dynamic. It seems to attract people with this sort of mind-set.
McAdams closed with this:
Based on the arguments I have heard on the radio; only rich people should serve as County Commissioner. I personally do not believe that.
Comm. Carruthers made this same argument in her letter to the editor. Essentially, Carruthers believes that working people do not have the time or resources to adequately serve on the BOCC. Like McAdams, I totally disagree with that. In fact, the BOCC should be doing all it can to encourage working people to participate in local government.
For one thing, Carruthers argues that working people wouldn’t have the time to acquaint themselves with issues affecting other districts. But she herself has demonstrated that she cares nothing about serious issues facing other districts. That is most definitely true of the wastewater funding disparity facing Key Largo. While she was more than happy to throw money at the Cudjoe Regional project, I don’t read that as true concern for the people in that area. After all, it was the contractors who really benefited from all her reckless spending.
For another, the local workforce is heavily impacted by the BOCC’s decisions. Carruthers is totally out-of-line when she tries to discourage working people from running. The BOCC is completely out of touch. Carruthers’s “tax shift” is a great example. She and her campaign donors would have enjoyed a tax break, but low-moderate income locals would have picked up much of the slack. Fortunately, that proposal is “in the freezer” for now, but I have a feeling it will be back once the qualifying period is over.