Vote: Make your voice heard now

By Steve Estes

Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to make decisions on many local races that will help shape the future of Monroe County, and to some extent, the state of Florida.

The top three local elected positions, those of the Board of County Commissioners, have all been filled with no opposition. District One Commissioner Kim Wigington decided not to run for reelection and in stepped long-time County Court Clerk Danny Kolhage who ran for the seat with no opposition and will take the dais in November. He will join long-time incumbent George Neugent from District Two, and recently reelected David Rice in District Four. He will also join District Three’s Heather Caruthers who faced no opposition, and District Five’s Sylvia Murphy who also regained her seat with no opposition.

We have no qualms about that board, although we always believe that competition brings out new ideas and new thought processes.

The races for State Attorney and Sheriff have garnered much of the local interest this year where in the former, incumbent Dennis Ward is trying to fend off former SA assistant Catherine Vogel in the Democratic primary for the right to face ousted former State Attorney Mark Kohl, whom Ward beat four years ago.

We won’t endorse any candidate. Our thought is that our readers have been able to gather enough information on their own over the course of a long campaign cycle to make their decisions and have the intelligence necessary to do so. Vote for the person you think will do the best job for you.

One-term Sheriff Bob Peryam has decided not to seek the office again, leaving his seat up for grabs. On the Democratic side, former Sheriff Deputy Tom Peteck goes against current Deputy Matt Koval for the right to challenge the Republican nominee in November.

Those Republican candidates include current Undersheriff Rick Ramsay, the hand-picked successor of Peryam, current State Attorney investigator Bill Grove and current Deputy Jake Brady.

This choice is simple. If you see no problems with the Sheriff’s Office as it is today, you take the hand-picked guy. If there are issues you want addressed, you pick someone else.

Current State Rep. Ron Saunders is seeking to move up the food chain and is seeking the State Senate seat being vacated by Larcenia Bullard. Saunders is from the Keys and has twice served as the representative. Whether he beats out the challengers remains to be seen, but we’re sure to get more than once visit every few years from a local product.

Saunders’ former Legislative Aide Holly Raschein is seeking Saunders’ vacant seat, going against former Key West Mayor Morgan McPherson who was handily defeated by Saunders in the last election for the same seat. The winner faces Democrat Ian Whitney in the general election in November.

There is a crowded field for School Board District Three with no incumbent as Duncan Mathewson declined to run again. School watchdogs Larry Murray and Capt. Ed Davidson are seeking this seat as are non-profit director Michael Cunningham, former principal John Welsh, retired attorney Mark Peterson and perennial candidate Sloan Bashinsky.

If one of those six manages 50 percent plus one in Tuesday’s vote count the race still goes to November for the top two because Bashinsky is a write-in candidate.

Long-time incumbent Andy Griffiths faces off against Howard Hubbard and Yvette Mira-Talbott in the District Two School Board race where the 50 percent plus one scenario could determine a winner. If that doesn’t happen, the top two vote-getters move on to November.

There are also races for Clerk of Courts with four Republicans attempting to go against Trinidad Joe Allen in November. CPA Amy Heavilin, Stuart Kessler, school board audit and finance committee member, Kevin Madok, current clerk’s office employee and endorsed by outgoing clerk Danny Kolhage, and Matt Gardi, current IT Director fo the State Attorney’s office will be on the Republican ballot Tuesday.

Voters will also get to cast ballots for US Representative and local Mosquito Control in the Lower Keys area.

There are no referendums or constitutional questions on this ballot, but every registered voter will have a ballot because the school board races are non-partisan.

And that’s the key to this, and every election that comes down the pike.

In order to have a say in shaping your future, you must go out and vote. Absentee ballots have already been mailed. Early voting ends tomorrow at five locations. And the polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m.

Regardless of how you cast your ballot, make your voice heard and cast your ballot.

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