If you’re not familiar with Hometown! PAC, you should check them out. They recently held a “meet the candidates” event.
The District 5 segment was amazing to watch. Sylvia Murphy gave a content-free speech. There was a lot of name dropping. If you care about who Murphy knows, you’ll find that interesting. I don’t and I didn’t. There was a lot about what a “straight-shooter” she is. Ha! And what a “great job” she and her colleagues have done. Ha! Her pitch, as is typical, was all about her.
She enjoys her “job”. She enjoys the people she “works” with. Not a word about the community she supposedly serves. I guess that part doesn’t matter as long as she’s happy. This self-centered approach, of course, mirrors her public comments on the biggest financial issue affecting her own district – the huge $125 million wastewater funding disparity. She is happy with her bill, and if her constituents aren’t, well, that’s too bad. It also reflects her poor treatment of the citizens in Cudjoe Regional.
Robby Majeska’s speech was a major contrast. It was all about the community, especially the workforce. Affordability is a huge issue. We all know it. Everyone talks about it. The county’s lack of financial restraint is a huge issue. We know that, too. These two items are related, of course. Somebody has to pay for the county’s wild spending sprees. Who will that be? The commissioners’ campaign donors? Of course not! It will be the voiceless local workforce. The Emergency Services Surtax (ESS) proposal is proof of that. Your average working person cannot make it to BOCC meetings, which are held mid-week during business hours. The BOCC does not allow the submission of written comments. Your average worker doesn’t have time to sift through deceptive reports, and sort fact from fiction. Citizens are regularly dismissed and denigrated when they have a concern or a complaint.
Majeska is the clear choice for District 5 county commissioner. He understands his role as a watchdog. He understands that the decisions he makes affect local citizens – sometimes for decades. Most of all, he actually cares. Unlike Murphy, Majeska is running to serve the community, not himself.
The candidates for Clerk of Court were also very interesting. I believe that Amy Heavilin had a big hill to climb when she took over from Danny Kolhage in 2012. But everyone “knows” that the “well-respected” Kolhage did an “outstanding” job as Clerk. How can I possibly dispute this conventional wisdom? Lots of reasons!
- As a commissioner, Kolhage has been hugely irresponsible with taxpayer money. Not only has the Cudjoe Regional sewer project exceeded the budget by $49 million, but $25 million in capital projects now stands at $63 million.
- Under Kolhage’s “leadership”, the county’s long term debt has increased by $166 million.
- Kolhage uses divisive rhetoric to pit one group of citizens against another.
- As Clerk, Kolhage used his position to conduct a flawed audit against Stand Up for Animals (SUFA). The county pursued their pointless and wasteful vendetta against SUFA for years, and was eventually forced to settle. All of this at great expense to the taxpayers.
- As Clerk, Kolhage’s office was cited for three years of late payments to jurors.
- Kolhage’s son, a former Key West city commissioner, reportedly used his influence to make sure that an associate with a criminal record was hired for a key government position. See here, here and here.
So yes, based on all these factors I believe that the Clerk’s office probably was a bubba-fied mess when Heavilin took over. Heavilin has brought the office a long way in four years. If she’s given another four years, things will get even better. She has promised continued technical improvements and enhanced accessibility to information. I believe her.
Madok, unfortunately, tarnished himself by drafting the extremely dishonest ESS “white paper”. That paper made a number of demonstrably false claims and hid the true impact of the ESS on low-moderate income locals. This, in my mind, disqualifies him from the office of Clerk of Court – an office where truthfulness and integrity are essential.
Ron Saunders had little to say other than that he would provide “leadership”. If he’d like to explain what that means, I’d be happy to listen. What need does he plan to fill? How exactly would he improve the Clerk’s office? It’s obvious that he would make a better Clerk than Madok, but why does he think he would make a better Clerk than Heavilin?
Heavilin is running a positive and professional campaign. In her speech, she told us what she has accomplished so far and what she intends to accomplish in the future. She ought to have the chance to keep the Clerk’s office moving forward.
In my opinion, these are the two most important county-wide races in the Keys. I’ll be watching with interest.