You are not logged in | Member Login

this is the expanded nav content

BY CHARLOTTE TWINE Free Press Staff


KEY LARGO — 



 “It’s quite an honor that the people in Key Largo decided I was worthy of it, you know?” said Dan Powers, who won Seat 5 on the Key Largo Fire Rescue & Emergency Medical Services District board. According to Monroe County’s Supervisor of Elections website, he captured 53.42 percent of the total amount of voters (2,831 votes); his opponent, electrician and volunteer firefighter Frank Conklin, had 46.58 percent (2,469 votes).

 Powers, a long-time Silver Shores resident, was a paramedic for Monroe County for over two decades. He said his celebration on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 8, upon being elected was subdued.

 “I went to a friend’s house, and we just had snacks and watched the election. And I was back home by 8:30. I didn’t feel right — like, you know, a big celebration. Because you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.

 He feels voters responded to the fact that he worked hard at his campaign.

. “I went to almost every meeting I could possibly go to. I just think they saw that I was really trying,” he said. “What I did for my campaign will pass over to the board and have results.

” During his campaign run, Powers learned information that has expanded his goals for his term as a fire board member.

 “There’s a lot more resources out there than I’ve realized, in the sense of grants and state and federal help,” he said, alluding to the budget-challenged fire district. “I need to get with [Fire Chief Don Bock] and find out what they’re doing. There are other resources we can tap into.” 

The board of the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District will be welcoming a new face — well, kind of. Activist Sue Heim has been attending board meetings for years, and her election as one of the five commissioners last week means she will finally be sitting on the other side of the meeting table.

 With 29.93 percent of the voters (2,982 votes) supporting her, she beat out ex-board member Gary Bauman (24.91 percent, 2,482 votes) and retired teacher Dennis Caltagirone (10.24 percent, 1,020 votes). Current Commissioner Steve Gibbs got the most votes out of all the candidates (34.92 percent, 3,479 votes) and therefore will be retaining his seat. 

Heim is “very pleased and grateful” about winning one of the two open seats on the board. 

“I have an opportunity to make a difference,” she said. Upon learning she was elected, she said that she had dinner with friends and watched the returns. 

Heim believes voters responded to her record of helping district customers, her authenticity and her obvious efforts to research the issues. 

“One voter told me I was the only candidate who gave actual facts about future billing changes,” she said. “Nothing in my ‘campaign message’ was fabricated or designed. I spoke what I believe.”

Like Powers, for her term, she wants to investigate creative ways to bring money into the district by looking into solar power and the opportunities for selling reclaimed water to outside entities.

 “And of course, continue my efforts to assist customers, and control spending,” she added. 

Gibbs reports being “relieved” that he is retaining his post. 

“I never count my chickens until I see them follow their momma to the pond,” he said. On election night, he toasted the good news with his wife, Jane, with a Belgian ale and was in bed by 10, reading a book.

 Gibbs spent the least amount of money on his campaign out of all the Key Largo candidates, including for the fire district, and yet he had the most votes. He had $225 in “In Kind Contributions” and zero expenditures and zero monetary contributions. 

“My motto has been ‘Knowledge, Commitment and Integrity,’” he said. “I think educated voters who read the local papers and interact with folks about issues appreciate those qualities as well as my unyielding effort to pay down our debt so that we can reduce rates.”

 He congratulated Heim and remains undaunted with his long-term goal “to significantly reduce rates sometime during 2018.” ctwine@keysnews.com